I've noticed something different about today's customer. Unlike the customer of yesteryear who did not have easy access to product information and multiple avenues by which to locate and purchase products, the customer of today can easily access information, compare prices and formulate product or service questions in the comfort of their home or office. The question of "What does today's customer want?" often comes to mind. Here's what I think they're looking for.
Convenience - Lifestyles have changed over the years. People are working longer hours. More and more of us are working from home. The internet has assisted in making the world a twenty-four hour marketplace. Today's customer wants the convenience of researching and making purchasing decisions without having to leave their home or office. Does your web presence allow them the ability to acquire enough knowledge about your product or service to make a purchasing decision? Is it possible to make a purchase right now? Twenty-four hours a day? On the other side of the world? Can they make purchases via their smartphone? Now I know this one may be a little tough, but can they communicate with someone within your organization when it's convenient for the customer? I know this may mean asking the customer to email your organization, but can they feel confident that someone will respond within a reasonable amount of time? The busy customer of today wants to have the ability to do business with your company at their convenience.
Knowledgeable Workforce - Because your customer has the ability to perform their own research regarding your product or service, they expect your employees to know even more! Have you ever asked questions regarding a product or service only to feel that you knew more than the employee? Your customer expects your employees to be experts. Are your employees trained properly? Do they know the history of your company? Do they know how your products are made? Materials required to manufacture the product? Can they provide comprehensive answers regarding your service concept? Are they familiar with your competitor's products/services and how they compare to your offerings? When today's customer interacts with your company, they want assistance from competent, knowledgeable employees.
Speed - Today's customers are busy with the everyday hustle and bustle of life. The idea of dealing with inefficient processes and procedures when attempting to do business with your company is very unappealing. Your customer wants to be serviced in a timely manner. Today's customer wants to utilize technology to assist in reducing the amount of time required to make purchasing decisions and completing transactions. Is purchasing products or services a simple process for your customer? Once your customer makes a purchasing decision, how long does it take to complete the transaction? What's the wait time at your retail locations before the customer is serviced? Are you aware of your peak periods and staffed accordingly? Can your customer easily find products or services on your website? Is your customer able to walk into one of your "brick and mortar" sites and quickly locate their items of choice? Make sure that your company allows your customer to quickly and efficiently conduct business.
Consistency - The customer of today wants to know that they will receive the same level of service every time they choose to do business with your company. Whether it's through your website, over the phone or in person, your customer wants to know that they can count on your company to consistently deliver a great customer experience. As we stated previously; speed, convenience and a knowledgeable workforce are key ingredients required to service today's customer. Can you provide these ingredients for every customer - during every interaction? I hear someone saying "For every customer Errol - during every interaction?" Yes, for every customer - during every transaction. Consistency is one of the building blocks in creating both customer retention and customer loyalty. Your level of consistency is key to building trust with your customer. Make sure that your customer consistently receives a high level of service regardless of how they choose to conduct business with your company. Does the customer receive a high level of service at all of your retail locations? Does it matter which customer service person interacts with the customer in regards to the level of service provided? Your customer expects your service delivery to be consistent across all channels and from all company personnel.
A Great Mobile Access Experience - Technology has created a multitude of avenues that assist your customer in their daily living. Today's customer can make dinner reservations, and check for parking availability near the restaurant directly from their smartphone. Does your company take advantage of technology to create a better mobile experience for your customer? Do you have a mobile website? How would your customer rate your mobile website? Are you aware of what percentage of your customers found you via your mobile website? According to Compuware, fifty - seven percent of consumers would not recommend a business with either a bad mobile website or no mobile website. Forty percent have turned directly to a competitor's mobile website after a bad mobile website experience. Does your mobile website provide enough information for your customer to take the next step: call you or visit in person. A smartphone usage study (The Mobile Movement) from Google in 2011 reveals that a positive mobile experience drives traffic to your business. The study found that after conducting a local search, sixty-one percent of smartphone users called the business, fifty-nine percent visited the business in person and ninety percent of callers or visitors did so within twenty-four hours.
In today's marketplace, your competitors are no longer just in the same local area, state or even the same country. The customer of today has many purchasing options. Garner your share of today's customers by including the ingredients of Convenience, A Knowledgeable Workforce, Speed, Consistency and A Great Mobile Access Experience.
© Errol Allen Consulting 2012
About Our Guest: Errol Allen has over 25 years of hands-on experience in the customer service industry including 13 years in a management role. Errol has worked in several industries within the service sector including security systems, newspaper, software, cable television and insurance. Having held positions as an Internal Customer Service Consultant, Call Center Quality Manager and Operations Analyst, Errol understands the need for a "systems" orientation to providing excellent customer service. He is experienced in facilitating interdepartmental process improvement projects to insure efficient service delivery to both internal and external customers. Errol has also designed and implemented customer service training programs for the "front line" associate to insure employee confidence when interacting with customers. Errol has taken knowledge gained during his long corporate career and founded Errol Allen Consulting where he seeks to assist his clients in developing customer service strategies for maximum customer retention. He is a member of the American Society of Quality, which promotes the practical application of quality knowledge across multiple industries. Errol is a contributing writer for Small Business Today Magazine and D-Mars Business Journal and is the publisher of “Now That’s Customer Service!” a free monthly online newsletter where he offers customer service tips and real life customer service stories. An avid blogger, his articles have been published in several online magazines including Customer Service Manager and Customer Experience Magazine of the UK. He is also a workshop leader at the University of Houston's Small Business Development Center. Errol currently serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors for the Marvin & Juanita Smith Learning Centers of Excellence which educates middle school and high school teens on the consequences of teen pregnancy.