Why Customer Expectations Are Binary

Customer expectations are binary. You either exceed them, or you fall short. Similarly, if you’re trying to keep up with increasing consumer expectations, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

Amazon, no longer a small online bookstore by any measure, knows this. Their objective isn’t to meet expectations. Rather, their objective is to exceed customer expectations such that customer expectations increase by way of the service they provide. Scot Wingo, Co-Founder of Channel Advisor, calls this increasing customer expectation the “Amazon Effect.

Fueled largely by the Amazon Effect, the expectations of today’s customer is rising at a dramatic pace. They expect a personalized, quick, and consistent experience. A recent IBM Institute for Business Value report brings this fact into sharp focus:

  • 76 percent of consumers expect organizations to understand their individual needs
  • 81 percent of consumers demand improved response time
  • 68 percent anticipate organizations will harmonize consumer experiences

Empowered customers are starting to take for granted that a company will know and understand their individual needs. They expect that companies will know what they searched for and their past ordering history. Amazon has raised the bar on customer expectations.

David Trice of ENGAGEcx refers to this new breed of need-it-now consumers as On-Demand customers. Today’s customer expects companies will address their needs with precision and expertise at every touch point. Companies that leverage info-sense can expect increased customer loyalty and advocacy. The penalty for nonperformers is more than just a lost customer as social media now provides a platform for any unhappy consumer to broadcast their bad experience globally.

To offset the Amazon Effect, you must get ahead of the expectations curve. You don’t have to deliver Amazon-level service, but you must know that expectations are increasing, and you have to stay one step ahead. Author Peter Shankman calls this “one level above crap,” as to say you must be better than the status quo.

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