Managing Customer Experience vs. Expectation in the Digital Age

Managing Customer Experience vs. Expectation in the Digital Age

Before the internet and social media became such significant parts of customer experiences, people who wanted to give criticism or praise for a product or service usually contacted companies directly. Some never bothered, unless they were either extremely impressed or extremely upset.

Today, however, the digital age allows people to post content on social media in seconds, letting everyone in their network of friends know about the quality of service, a faulty product or something similar. Many customers also expect rapid responses from companies when they reach out to them, regardless of method.

Let’s explore the practical ways to ensure excellent customer experiences while keeping the target audience’s expectations at a realistic level.

Set Timeframes Your Team Can Meet

Some companies hire employees to monitor social media and respond to customer service queries as they come up. That’s one proactive step that nearly eliminates the likelihood of questions not being noticed and answered within a reasonable amount of time.

It’s also smart to go a step further and let customers know when to anticipate a response from a social media post or another form of communication. In this era of text messages delivered in seconds and Amazon orders that arrive within hours in some markets, people aren’t accustomed to long waits and may think they’ll only need to wait minutes for an answer.

After choosing a timeframe your customer service team members can achieve, publicize it in email auto-responders, chatbot replies and social media feeds. You can say something such as “Messages will be responded to within one day during normal business hours, which are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.”

If necessary, you can adjust the timeframe. The most important thing though is to let customers know about it and stick to those hours.

Always Respond to Customers, Even When They’re Upset

As mentioned earlier, digital technologies often encourage irate individuals to use social media as a platform, accomplishing a broad reach that potentially tarnishes a company’s reputation.

Some customer service managers may decide not to engage with those most-upset users, perhaps assuming the worst of the anger won’t last. However, a study indicates that people who received responses after posting negative feedback about a brand on social media were likely to pay more for something offered by that company, even if the company didn’t solve their problem.

If it seems counterintuitive to frequently reply to negative feedback, especially if there’s nothing a representative can do to improve the situation. However, any reply can have a positive effect on what customers do. People often want empathy, even if there isn’t a quick fix to a problem.

Because internet users can capture screenshots and share them so quickly, think about coming up with a script or other guidelines customer service representatives can follow.

Give People the Information Needed to Make Confident Decisions

The material that customers access should provide enough information to answer the questions they’ll likely have, thereby reducing the need to get help from a company representative. When an online portal allows customers to handle self-service actions, they feel empowered.

Then, they have positive customer experiences and find their expectations met or exceeded due to the information contained in the portal.
On an e-commerce site, a portal could allow people to check stock levels, see pictures of different colors, find out about expedited shipping options or learn what to do if they need to return an item. Linking to a FAQ page can cut down on fruitless searches for answers too.

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Dig Into Data to Find Room for Improvement

Applying for an initial passport or renewing one that’s expiring soon doesn’t usually rank among people’s favorite activities, meaning some individuals may not have favorable opinions of the agency that manages passport distribution. However, the U.S. State Department’s branch dealing with passports made significant branding improvements compared to other federal agencies.

One of the ways it achieved that was by studying data to find out where passport applicants encountered problems. The organization found photographs that didn’t meet standards were often to blame, so it began doing things within the agency to minimize issues. Representatives also launched a social media campaign that highlighted how to take better passport photos.

An advantage of the digital age is how it allows for data mining in ways that weren’t possible in earlier eras. Companies can look through collective information to see ways that customer expectations aren’t met, then determine how to make progress.

Acknowledge Mistakes

Due to the prominence of things like warehouse sensors and GPS trackers that trace products in transit, many customers expect that low or depleted stock levels will be no longer problematic. However, in the United Kingdom, KFC chains ran out of chicken, causing some people to become so distressed that they contacted the police.

In response, the brand released a clever — though some might say controversial — full-page ad that rearranged the letters in the brand’s acronym to spell out “FCK.” The brand also set up a website with a search function to help chicken fans find the nearest KFC branch operating during the shortage. The advertisement gained acclaim on social media for the bold statement, which included an apology.

Opportunities in the Digital Age

Efforts to maintain positive customer experiences sometimes fall short. When they do, a prompt acknowledgment can help make things right.

Although the digital age brings customer service challenges, it also presents opportunities. Brands that figure out how to seize them will thrive compared to slower adopters.

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