Knowing what consumers expect from your business will help you make smart moves with your company. As technology and society changes, so do consumer expectations. Every year there is a new product or finding that completely changes what consumers want from businesses and how they expect them to perform. Being able to connect with your customers and being open to adapting to fit their needs will not only improve relationships but benefit your company’s image.

Convenience

Consumers are wanting convenience now more than ever. Most, if not all of companies are striving to provide service and products as quick as possible. For example, Amazon is no longer the only major company that provides 2-day shipping and easy returns. Retail chains like Target, Walmart, and Chewy are now making it easier than ever to get your items in only two days. Walmart offers their grocery pickup and delivery service and it has been fueling their online growth ever since its start.

As we all know, people are going more digital. Over 50% of all purchasing decisions are influenced by some sort of technology. This means you need to look at your business model and see what areas can be updated with more digital features. As I’ve stated before, investing in a quality website and digital loyalty program will bring your business up a few notches. If you operate a restaurant, it would be advantageous to consider using food delivery services. From 2014 to 2016, online ordering and delivery have been growing 300% faster than dine-in traffic. Over 90% of this traffic is built of Gen-Z and Millennial customers.

Customer Service

Excellent customer service is more important than ever. I often see consumers staying away from brands specifically because of their less than acceptable customer service. In fact, 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. This number might seem insignificant, but it’s important to think about the value that returning customers have. Loyal customers result in a higher return on investment and require less spending on advertising. Bain & Company reports that increasing customer retention rates by 5% will increase profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.

If you look at companies like Chewy, you can call their support line and say you’re dissatisfied with a product and they will either send you a new one or give you a full refund without needing to return the item. This is a very smart business move because Salesforce reported that 74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing or returns processes too difficult.  In the long run, they are saving money with their refund policy because it keeps their loyal customers coming back.

Keep in mind you don’t have to be a large company to have a great customer service team. If you are a family owned store, making sure that all members of your team are well trained is the key to success. All your team members should know company policies and the expectations for how to serve your customers. Word of mouth is a highly sought after currency for businesses, so it’s important to deliver excellent customer service every time. As Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos says, “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”

Loyal Relationships

Not only do consumers want to feel heard, they want the ability to connect with their favorite companies on a personal level. In today’s digital age, it is essential for establishments to have an online presence to connect with their loyal customers. According to ValueWalk studies, “63 percent of customers expect companies to offer support via social media, and 35% of customers prefer it over other channels.” The ease of communicating to your customers via social media will improve your relationship because of how accessible it is.

Knowing what platform is most used by loyal customers is the first step. You then need to understand what draws them in the most. Well-known brands like Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Netflix use Twitter to communicate with their customers. They know that jokes and mainstream humor will gain attention from their consumers.

Netflix will often tweet asking their customers to reply with the mood they’re in and then suggest content to watch. Often, these suggestions are followed by a light joke or a GIF that is from the Netflix show they recommend. Netflix knows that this makes them appear personable and that their customers can relate to them.

Knowing what consumers are expecting from brands doesn’t have to be a big secret. Everybody is a consumer of some sort of product or service. I suggest you think about what you expect from companies you spend your money on. Ask yourself, are you delivering quality service and products to your customers that you expect from companies? If the answer is no, then you know you have some changes to make. Stay in tune with social media and pay attention to what receives either backlash or praise from consumers. These methods will help you constantly improve and make your business the best it can be.