Rising customer expectations must be embraced, not feared

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Rising customer expectations must be embraced, not feared
Customers are the lifeblood of every organisation...
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

The pandemic’s impact has been well-documented with many things having changed for good.

One such change has been the expectations of customers. Due to the pressure and stress of the unknown, customers have come to expect more from organisations; every engagement and experience is expected to be more seamless, efficient, and quicker than ever before — and many brands have obliged.

A new standard for customer experience

While we are still very much in the pandemic, we can now see the exit route. So, does that mean customer expectations will revert to the way they were pre-pandemic?

The short answer is no. Higher expectations for the sort of engagement customers want when they interact with brands are one of those permanent changes. Organisations have raised the bar on the standard of customer experience, and customers are not prepared to settle for less—and nor should they.

According to recent OpenText research, almost two-thirds (63%) of Australian consumers are more likely to buy again from brands that treat them like an individual, rather than the same as any other customer. The same research found approximately half (48%) of Australians only buy from brands that make them feel they understand their preferences, such as communicating with preferred channels or providing tailored deals.

Customers as individuals

Personalisation has been spoken about for many years, however these stats highlight just how important it is to get personalisation right. The challenge for organisations is that understanding what customers want around personalisation and delivering it at scale, are two very different propositions.

Utilise data for the customer’s benefit

We operate today in a data-rich world, where organisations have more information on their customers than ever before. Frustratingly, many organisations don’t use this information appropriately. This must change.

Organisations must put customer data to good use, and not just use it as a means of selling to customers, but add value to their everyday life. This means understanding how customers want to interact (i.e. what channels to use), when to interact, what they like and dislike, and so on. By doing this, organisations can show their customers they are truly invested in each of them as individual people, and don’t just see them as a dollar sign.

By focusing on delivering greater experiences and personalisation to customers, organisations open up more opportunities for themselves. Customers that are made to feel special will return. Furthermore, customers also value data privacy; in fact, three in five Australians would pay more to do business with an organisation that is committed to protecting their personal data.

Customers should have always been organisations’ priority, however with the pandemic creating so much fear, uncertainty and doubt, their importance has been cast into the spotlight — their value to every organisation is unquestionable. Customers are the lifeblood of every organisation, so it’s important businesses not only meet their expectations, but exceed them. In order to do this, businesses must not only be trusted to protect their customers’ data but utilise it to deliver positive experiences, personalised communications, and make customers feel important time and again.

The bar has been raised. It’s each organisation’s responsibility to ensure they reach it.

Albert Nel is vice president APAC at OpenText.

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