Back in the day, meeting customer expectations and needs was much simpler. As a standard, customers expected a high level of customer service, friendliness from the in-store staff, and a fair price.
However, the online marketplace has expanded what it means to provide stellar customer service. Now, customers want proactive (and often instant) customer service, personalised shopping experiences, and an easy, largely independent online shopping experience from browsing to checkout.
Needless to say, customer expectations are much higher these days, and the stats don’t lie – 76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs, and it’s just as easy for them to take their business elsewhere.
If you want to hit customer needs and expectations like a bullseye every time and keep them coming back for more, there are a few essential elements you need to adhere to. In this blog, we share four tips to help meet customer expectations and demand, so you can amp up the customer experience in your online store.
#1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (but still be optimistic)
“Lowest prices guaranteed!”
“Fast and free shipping worldwide!”
“Same day delivery anywhere in Australia!”
Alright, so the last one might have been a bit of a stretch – but it just goes to show that the number one rule of successful ecommerce and customer expectation management is to be transparent with customers and avoid making fantastic promises you simply cannot keep.
Naturally, you want to have a leg up on the competition and offer the best price or service possible, but it’s important to be realistic and not set customer expectations too high when there’s a chance you can’t deliver on your promises.
Pro tip: paint an optimistic picture of what customers can expect, but make sure to explain what might get in the way of the ideal outcome.
For example, think about same-day shipping or delivery. High traffic holiday and sales periods can delay same day shipping, the same way natural disasters like bushfires can limit the courier’s ability to make it on the expected delivery date.
Be optimistic, talk yourself up and make a solid impression – but don’t get too excited or unrealistic, because you run the risk of disappointing customers.
#2. Make sure the shipping timeline is accurate (and automated)
As a customer, there’s nothing worse than receiving an estimated delivery date and then watching it get pushed back… and then further… and further again…
The suspense is killer – and the longer a customer is forced to wait, the more likely they are to be disappointed, dissatisfied, or just downright furious.
Miscommunicating shipping details and timelines can lead to some serious relationship problems between you and your customers. According to recent data, 84% of customers will not return to a brand after one poor shipping experience, which means you have just one chance to get it right… so let’s brainstorm how to hit the nail on the head the first time and keep your customer’s shipping expectations under control.
Provide realistic transit times based on location & shipping type
Not all shipping options are created equal. If someone living in Perth orders a t-shirt from Melbourne, for example, it will take longer for the shirt to arrive compared to a customer who lives in Brunswick, just 20 minutes out of the Melbourne CBD.
It’s important to set a timeline and stick to it, or at least provide as much information as possible to meet customer expectations. The Iconic does this well – on their product pages, they have a delivery date estimation tool, so the customer can enter their postcode and see all the delivery date options available, alongside the costs associated to get it on time.
Image: The Iconic
This is most effective because the customer can choose how much they’re willing to spend to get their parcel faster. The delivery time, date, and cost is entirely in their hands, minimising the amount of work you need to do on your end while also automatically managing their expectations.
At Transdirect, we offer a similar calculator for our ecommerce customers who sell on eBay. Using our calculator plugin, customers can get instant shipping quotes based on their location – minimising the back-and-forth between you and your customers, while also providing an accurate, reliable quote.
#3. Offer seamless customer service and communication
According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 companies, the average response time to customer service requests is 12 hours and 10 minutes. Considering the average attention span of a human being is 8.25 seconds, this is not good enough to keep customers coming back for more.
Nowadays, customers expect to get the information they want almost instantly, and calling your business’ customer service hotline or waiting for an email back from your customer service team just ain’t going to cut it.
Customer service needs to be fast-paced and responsive to a superhuman degree.
Besides live chat and 24-hour hotlines, customers should feel free to communicate through alternative channels like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. Most businesses on Facebook now have the option to add an automated “average response time” on their profile, so customers know how quickly they can expect a response from the customer service team.
Take The Iconic, for example:
This lets customers know that they can contact The Iconic on Facebook at any time and talk to a real human in real-time. It’s quick, efficient, and if the customer service team isn’t available to answer, an automated message can be set up to further reiterate your commitment to customer service.
#4. Shift your efficiency to meet demand/expectations
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…
…but if it is, do!
Customers are quick to pick up on processes that don’t work within your business. It might be out-dated ecommerce software making the checkout process too vague or too complicated, a slow-loading website, or even website crashes in the middle of a checkout.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t take much for customers to abandon their cart and find your products (or similar) elsewhere. In 2019, customer research company Sale Cycle completed a survey of more than 2,500 customers globally and found 34% of customers abandoned cart because they had to create an account, 26% found the checkout process too complicated, and 17% either a) didn’t trust the site or b) had the website crash in the middle of checkout.
Image: Sale Cycle
Customers need the checkout process to feel secure and simple, and your website needs to be reliable. This can be achieved in a few easy steps:
- Keep up to date with the latest and greatest in ecommerce software. Sign up for updates from your ecommerce software provider and research the best plugins to ensure the customer experience is smooth, interactive and independent.
- Have an experienced web developer on your team. A web developer can help manage updates to the website and ecommerce software, coordinate shipping software changes, manage page speed and usability, and ensure website crashes are a thing of the past.
- Complete customer surveys. Want to know whether the checkout process is good enough for your customers? Consider asking for their opinion via a quick survey (complete with a cheeky incentive, like a 10% discount off their next order). No one knows the checkout process better than customers who have been through it, so their feedback is incredibly valuable to keep your processes up to date.
Customer expectations and needs are higher than ever – but you can go above and beyond with these 4 steps
In the online marketplace, customers need the checkout process to be safe, speedy and secure, with even faster shipping to boot. However, with the four steps mentioned above, you can set customer expectations and meet their needs easily.
Want to get started? We can help make shipping faster, more affordable and more accurate for your customers.
Here at Transdirect, we work with a wide range of couriers with diverse and flexible price points, shipping both nationally and internationally, so you can save a dime or two while offering the best possible shipping experience you can for your customers.