Modern-day customers are tech-savvy and demand a personalized experience to commit to a brand. As a result, businesses strive, with each campaign, to use data for the purpose of content personalization. However, their efforts at building a loyal customer base often fall short.
As businesses are locked in an intense game of three-party chess with customers and competitors, every decision is no less than a strategic move. Against this background, here is a detailed guide on predicting your customer’s next move and emerging as victors.
What are the Primary Customer Expectations in the Current Scenario?
About 75% of customers expect businesses to understand and meet their needs. However, a big chunk of companies still misses the mark. And for this very reason, allow us to quickly round up the primary customer expectations that are relevant now and will continue to reign supreme even in the future. Here is a quick summary of these expectations:
- Personalized Experiences: 91% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand and stay associated with it if the business can offer them personalized experiences. The end line is customers want unique and customized experiences from brands of their choice.
- Data Privacy and Protection: Nearly 86% of consumers care strongly about data privacy and want greater control over their data. About 79% of consumers are even willing to invest time or money to safeguard their data. Given this pre-requisite, companies should maintain transparency about data usage policies and make efforts to treat customer data as a sacred and secret asset.
- Omnichannel Presence: Customers are no longer committed to a single platform while purchasing, raising concerns, seeking assistance, researching, reading peer reviews, etc. Companies should mold themselves accordingly to offer an omnichannel, unified, and consistent customer experience that is platform agnostic – regardless of the internal organizational hierarchies.
- Rapid Response Times: 75% of customers believe that fast response is the cornerstone to a good customer experience. With 46% of customers expecting to hear back from businesses within the first four hours, companies need to expedite the rate at which they carry conversations.
- Self-Servicing Options: It is clear that customers no longer wish to wait around while being served. Against this background, a significant number – precisely 73% – of customers prefer the DIY approach through FAQs, knowledge bases, and even chatbots rather than contacting human support.
Digital Innovation: Customers are no longer oblivious to the fact that technology and digital innovation are adding to their convenience. They want companies to be more proactive in embracing and introducing tools like chatbots, AI, AR/VR, ML, etc., to enhance the customer experience.
These are just the critical customer expectations and behaviors that are broadly applicable to all industries. You may notice more additions to this list based on the niche customer requirements for your specific sector.
How to Respond to Changing Customer Expectations and Behaviors?
Simply knowing about the changing customer behaviors or expectations is not enough. You need to be equipped to respond to them appropriately to mitigate any adverse effects and/or capitalize on opportunities. Here’s a quick primer on how to make it happen.
Make Insights the Key Driving Force
Customer insights play a central role in determining, validating, and effecting any customer-led changes within your organization. As always, when it comes to data and insights – the more the merrier. However, simply hoarding data is not enough. You need to be in a position to collect data from valuable sources, extract actionable information from it, and make strategic decisions that could change the course of events.
Perform Periodic Market Research
Most customer behaviors and expectations do not change overnight. These changes are rather systematic, and businesses that are in touch with their customer base can easily anticipate them. To enjoy such an advantage, you need to conduct periodic market research to stay current on all that’s happening within your industry.
Develop an Ongoing Feedback System
Apart from involving market experts to analyze and decipher the winds of change, you can also include your customers by giving them a voice. A customer feedback mechanism can help you identify, prioritize, and act upon customer requirements. Complement this strategy with social listening to tap into those cohorts that may not participate in your surveys or feedback communications.
Invest in Tools and Technologies
Modern-day tools and technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Predictive Modeling, Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), etc., have eliminated all the guesswork from reaching an understanding with your customer. They are also future-proofing businesses and offering a buffer against disruptions. Invest in tools that can make data discovery, derive meaning from it, and implement change without human intervention!
Build a Customer-Centric Culture
Finally, creating a customer-centric business culture is one of the best ways to keep up with your customers’ changing moods, behaviors, and preferences. Businesses innately motivated to put their customers first, engage with them, understand their needs, and react accordingly would easily tailor their products and services to customers’ preferences.
How Businesses Can Benefit From Anticipating the Customer’s Next Move?
We have seen so far that the business landscape, across all industries and sectors, is in constant flux. And much of these fluctuations stem from changing customer behaviors and expectations. With customers easing into the driver’s seat, businesses have no option but to comply with their demands. However, rather than doing it retrospectively, businesses that are proactive about it can yield the following positive outcomes:
Streamlined Processes and Operations
Businesses with a solid understanding of their customers can seamlessly pivot their operations and processes to align them with customer behaviors and demands better.
For instance, consider the marketing mix. Say that you have come to the knowledge that Millennials, your target audience, are switching from Facebook to Instagram or TikTok. Based on this foresight, your marketers would quickly work out social media marketing strategies for the changing platforms, cash in on the move, and fetch significantly better results.
Optimum Utilization of Budget
Naturally, once you have figured out a way to streamline business processes and operations, you would be plugging in any revenue leakages that may be eating into profitability.
Let’s continue with the previous example of marketing. Say you are absolutely unaware that the Millennials are migrating to Instagram or TikTok. As a result, you continue to invest in Facebook Ads (without calculating your Facebook Ads ROI), recruiting marketers with expertise in Facebook, optimizing the marketplace, and so on. Such investments are effectively going to waste! On the flip side, if you anticipate this move and make suitable investments, the ROI it will attract would be phenomenal!
Customer-Centric Decision Making
‘Customer is king’ is no longer a motto of an era bygone. It is a stark reality that businesses must adapt to stay relevant in the present scenario. And with customers becoming the focal point of everything, businesses must make customer-centric decisions. Fortunately, businesses that have mastered the art of deploying data to anticipate the customer’s next move would find themselves at a profitable vantage point to make such fruitful decisions.
Earn and Retain Customers
The tight coupling between what your customers want and what you offer will grant you repeated success with customer acquisition and retention. Plus, predicting such variables in the future will make your business flexible and adaptable against any customer-led disruptions. After all, fulfilling customer requirements and offering a solution to their pain points is the key to fulfilling customer relationships. And as a result of such meaningful customer engagement, you will enjoy a loyal customer base – especially in the long run.
Improved Business Performance
Predictive modeling will generate valuable insights that will imminently shape your business’ overall performance. As seen already, figuring out your customer’s next move and responding to changes with minimum downtime will grant positive results in every facet of your business – marketing, sales, or customer service. It will attract a sizeable ROI, eliminate inefficiencies, and improve customer retention, increasing your bottom line. Plus, it will offer your business a unique competitive edge, further amplifying such results!
Customer expectations are changing at an accelerated rate, and businesses are stuck between a pivot or perish situation. We have highlighted some pressing customer expectations ruling the industries today (and in the near future), as well as demonstrated how companies can keep up with changes in the same. We have also highlighted what you gain from taking on such an ambitious task. So, what are you waiting for? Gear up to treat your customers like their kings or queens!
About the author
Nidhi Prakash is associated with MoEngage as Content Outreach Manager and carries five years of writing experience in the marketing industry. Besides work, she is a passionate traveler and avid reader.