Customer expectations: 5 things that have changed

Customer service
May 5, 2021

Standing in line to return an order or file a complaint are not the typical things your so-called millennial customers do anymore. In the past years, we’ve gotten used to doing everything online. This means that your store and your customer service had to go completely virtual too. And that’s something that we’re not going to reverse. Customer service and the behavior of customers are changing drastically. Here are 5 customer expectations every e-commerce manager should know.

1. Customer communication channels

A couple of years ago, it was very common to have a simple webshop with your phone number and email address on it. Nowadays this won’t do the trick. The competition for online shops is enormous. If you want people to find you without knowing you exist, you have to be active on the communication channels they are. If your ideal customers are on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, you need to be on those channels too. Not just with a presence, you need to actively seek interaction. When a question pops up on one of these channels, you have to answer it there. Even if it’s a channel that used to be personal, but now is public, like WhatsApp.

But keep in mind, if you’re adding new communication channels to your brand, you need to anticipate the expectations of customers for every channel. Think about the tone of voice and response time.

Find out on what channels your ideal customers are. When you have found the most popular channels, make sure your brand is proactively on there.

2. Response time

Next to being active on a variety of communication channels, you also have to answer your customers quickly. In the past, you may have gotten away with a nice customer service form on your website that said you would respond within a week. Today’s customers aren’t that patient. In fact, 54% of people expect customer service to respond within two hours. And we’re not only talking about opening hours. 51% of people also expect you to answer when you are closed.

This means that you have to go all-in when it comes to customer service and response time. Tricks like quick replies, auto-replies, and automation can help you speed up this process. Because if someone doesn’t get an answer right away, they might go on the hunt for another brand.

Customers appreciate you when you respond within two hours, but they will love you if you answer even faster. Think of communication channels like WhatsApp, if you can exceed your customer’s experience there, you can make people come back.

3. Automated communication

Clippy was one of the first virtual assistants you may remember ever having. He was a companion, helping you out in Word. Although he has been retired for quite a while and became a victim of endless memes, he also made people realize that service can be automated too. Nowadays, customers are used to talking to chatbots. Chatbots can help your customers out if they have a simple question about opening hours, return policy, or delivery status. It can be a very efficient way to communicate with your customers. On top of that, it saves your customer service team time answering repetitive questions.

But here’s a downside: only 27% of people have a positive experience with chatbots. So you either send your chatbot on social training, or you train your chatbot to answer simple questions and leave more complex questions to customer service agents. Moral of the story? Give your customers the option to choose a human too.

If you want or have a chatbot, don’t forget to train them. Teach words or sentences that help them answer the question in the right way, but you have to give a bunch of synonyms too. Whatever way your customer decides to ask the question, your bot can give the answer your customer would expect.

4. Online expectations

Trengo’s research shows that 48% of today’s consumers expect small stores to have an online website with customer service. So even if you’re a tiny little book store in downtown London, people want you to go virtual. But they don’t just expect you to be online, 73% of people also expect the same good customer service as any other bigger brand. Even if you’re with a really small team.

Basically, this means that wherever you are and whatever you’re selling, you need to be online and answer questions within a reasonable time. Yes, this may bring along more work and more channels, but it also gives you the opportunity to sell to customers who don’t live close by.

Take your shop online. If you’re with a small team, make sure you assign one team member to customer service every day, to ensure all questions are answered quickly. One way to answer questions fast and sufficient is a website widget with live chat.

5. Help centers

If you’re growing your online business, you expect to sell more. And if you sell more, you have more customers. But those customers may have more and more questions you need to answer. Of course, you can do this by putting down your phone number on your website and letting customers give you a call. But before you know it, manually answering questions is taking up hours of your time.

Instead of growing your team to keep up, you can also choose a self-service option: a help center. A help center is a perfect way to let your customers find whatever they need. You can create content around questions to help customers out without having to talk to them personally.

Make an inventory of questions that your customer service team gets on a daily basis. See if you can answer those questions in the help center or FAQs to save your team time.

Are you ready for the future of customer service?

If you want to live up to your customer’s expectations, you have to do the work. Be active on the channels your customers are, answer as quickly as possible, make it personal, and give them the possibility to find answers to questions themselves.

Trengo’s customer service platform helps you manage different communication channels, so you keep one clear overview of all your incoming conversations. More about customer service? Go to our resources page or download our whitepaper e-commerce customer service in 2021.

The research in this blog is based on an analysis of customer service data from 2000+ Trengo customers, and a market survey of 1000+ consumers.

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