The internet has changed what customer expectations online are. People are more impatient, demanding, and inquisitive for better or worse.
These should be expected though when they’re a customer of your business and are paying your business money.
Whether we as a business owner think a customer’s impatience or demands are founded or not, it’s our responsibility to set expectations and manage them.
Some of the ideas in this blog post are influenced by a Think With Google post about 3 new consumer behaviors playing out in Google search. I’m will lay out this information and apply action to it later.
What Do Customers Expect
Customer expectations are higher now than ever. According to Google, their expectations for finding what they’re looking for continue to increase.
When searching, customers have a “right here, right now” mentality.
It’s becoming more evident that customers are looking for “more useful information, more personalization, more immediacy” according to Lisa Gevelber from Google.
That means if you’re a business and want to connect with customers, you have to be ready. You’ll have to connect with customers who are more informed, want to consume on their terms, and when they want.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Customers are more informed today than they’ve ever been.
Before buying anything or going to a business a fair bit of research is part of many customer’s routines.
Customer expectations online start with the research they’re doing. They’re looking for the best and that is reflected in search results.
Customers aren’t looking for a Thai food restaurant, they’re looking for the best Thai food restaurant. This is being reflected by the increase of “best” searches.
Becoming the best is a great goal and that can be shown in ratings, testimonials, and awards. All of these contribute to your business being included in a list of the best.
Consuming on their terms
There are a lot of ways that customer expectations online are becoming more demanding.
The Think With Google post focuses on “right here” which means customers expect location tailored information. That’s only one small aspect of expectations though.
Another aspect you have to recognize is that no customer today is going to go out of their way to do business with you. Yes, the customer wants to learn about you but they don’t want to fight technology to do it.
That means if your website and content aren’t easy to access then customers won’t try too hard and they’ll leave. If your website loads slow and doesn’t look and work great on all devices then they’ll leave.
So, it could be any number of difficulties and consumers won’t wait around to figure it out. They’ll leave and you don’t want them to.
Whatever a customer is looking for right now should be available right now. When a customer is looking for something online then they’re often ready to purchase also.
The right now world we live in now has been amplified by mobile devices.
Customer expectations online are very much driven by instant gratification.Instant gratification is expected online today. Click To Tweet
If a customer sets out on a goal to research a product or service there’s a good chance they’ll actually buy that product or service too.
That’s especially true for customers on smartphones who are 50% more likely to expect to purchase something immediately while using their smartphone compared to a year ago.¹
Now that you have an understanding of how customers expectations online are formed, how do you meet those expectations as a small business?
How To Meet Customer Expectations Online
Customers have expectations and you are trying to meet them. First, you have to understand their expectations by getting to know your customer.
Next, you must have a way to match what your business does with customer expectations.
When there’s a match between what you do and what the customer expects then you have a winning scenario. You’ll be able to exceed customer expectations and create happy customers.
Customers are more informed than they’ve ever been. Think about how easy it is to do research.
What you need to do as a business owner is inform the customer. That means you don’t need to sell to them but rather help them.
You can solve customer expectations online by answering their questions. Everyone is after answers to their problems, questions, etc. anyway. If you can provide the answers like no one else can then you win the internet for that customer.
People who are informed usually have questions and you need to answer those questions. You can answer questions with:
- Blog posts
- Guest blogging
- And any other content you can think of
Sometimes customers are just looking to research what others think of your business. Honest online reviews are an extremely important part of making the right information available to consumers.
When you’re contributing to informing customers you also have to meet them on their terms.
Consuming on their terms
Your job is to make it as easy as possible for customers to find you. That means one of the best things you could do is make yourself available in all relevant online locations possible.
It’s all about creating an always-on online brand presence to meet expectations.
Once a customer finds your business online then it should be easy to learn about your business and give you money.
Many businesses are likely to guide people back to their website. If you can relate to that then your website needs to be mobile friendly. It should also load fast and look good on the browser of your choice.A businesses online presence is still heavily reliant on their website Click To Tweet
Have you tested how your website looks on various web browsers and at different speeds?
These are all things you need to do in order to make sure customers can use your website on their terms and not yours.
Your website is only part of it though. There are directory sites, consumer review sites, local directories, top business listings, maps, and more where customers might find your business.
Customer expectations online start when their search starts.
You have many opportunities from that point to be in that customer’s search path. If you manage to get in their search path then you only have one opportunity to make it count.
That’s why meeting them on their terms by making it easy to buy or find what they need is essential.
Make it easy and available immediately for customers to accomplish their goals.
If you’re an eCommerce shop don’t make customers hunt for the price, product details, or how to add the product to their cart.
If you can help it don’t make them sign in either.
In other words, think about all those things that can make a customer experience online as simple and quick as possible. The fewer roadblocks the better.
Because so many consumers are willing to buy immediately if they find what they want and get informed, you have to be ready to capitalize on that readiness.
It could be that your website needs to be as fast as possible or that directions to your business are obvious.
If you’re an electrician and require an appointment, let people make an appointment right on your website. Either that or let them contact you as easy as possible.
Having website live chat available to schedule consultations or calls will help you exceed expectations.
Hersh and Son Custom Cabinets needs to talk with potential new clients to make sure the job matches his requirements.
This lead form makes it simple and easy which requires the minimum information needed to get started.
Ask for more and people aren’t likely to fill it out. Ask for less and the business won’t have what they need.
All lead forms need to ask for the absolute minimum to make it easy.
Making things simple will instill confidence in your business and will even improve the chance referrals turn into leads.
Your Online Presence Meets Customer Expectations
It’s not just your website that needs to meet customer expectations online.
Your customers have needs and they begin the second their search begins.
As soon as they run across your company is the moment when you matter to them.
Your online presence determines when and how your customers experiences your company for the first time. It makes those lasting first impressions.
A great website helps but often customer expectations online begin before they ever get to your website. Request your free
Online Presence Report to see how customers are likely to see you online.
¹ Google/Ipsos Connect, Rising Consumer Expectations in the Micro-Moment, U.S., Dec. 2016 and Aug. 2015, (2016: n=1,516 U.S. online smartphone users, A18+, 2015: n=1,291 U.S. online smartphone users 18+)