What Customers Want: It’s a Simple Question, So Why Is It So Hard to Answer?

customer wants

In the 2000 comedy film What Women Want, Mel Gibson plays a hotshot advertising executive who shocks himself with an electric hairdryer and wakes up the next morning with a bizarre gift: the ability to read women’s minds. When he’s passed over for a promotion at the office by a female boss, he realizes he can use his newfound talent to get what he wants at work and in his personal life.

In today’s consumer-driven marketplace, companies are often expected to be able to read customers’ minds the way Mel Gibson did in the movie. Or so it seems.

New research from Ovum and LogMeIn shows today’s customers have come to expect a certain level of customer service from companies – and they’re not willing to compromise on their high standards. Seventy-six percent of customers surveyed will walk away from a company following a poor customer experience and 48% believe that getting in touch with customer service representatives has gotten more (instead of less) difficult over the past two years.

It’s clear there’s a disconnect between what customers expect from companies and what companies are actually delivering. But what makes determining what customers want so difficult? And what can companies do to make it easier on themselves?

Let’s take a look at a few things companies can do to meet high customer expectations:

Stay on Top of the Latest CX Research

It’s one thing to make a pledge to improve the customer experience but quite another to take the steps to execute on that promise. Whether offering more channels to provide better service, focusing on agent training to improve performance, or any number of different tactics, companies need to know what it is their customers want from them in order to truly enhance the experience.

One way to get a window into customer expectations and preferences is to stay on top of the latest research related to the customer experience. Research data can provide companies with results from customer surveys, key industry trends, and customer frustrations, actionable insight they can leverage to improve the customer experience.

Uncover the Root Cause of Customer Issues

Sometimes the best way to find out what’s on a person’s mind is to just ask! And it’s no different when it comes to the relationship between companies and their customers.

There are many ways to uncover the root cause of customer concerns, including surveys, social media interactions, and more. Contact analytics, which capture unstructured data from recorded calls, emails, chat transcriptions, and other customer interactions, can also be hugely beneficial in identifying trends and pain points that may need to be addressed in order to improve the customer experience overall.

Be Prepared to Make Changes

A Smart Customer Service article analyzing the Ovum/LogMeIn research findings notes that companies are often reluctant to upgrade their contact centers (due to the associated costs), even when it means they have the opportunity to better serve their customers.

“Even though contact centers are filled with connected people and managers themselves are consumers, I think that unfortunately the policies, procedures, and technologies in place in contact centers are just behind,” says Ross Haskell, senior director of products at LogMeIn’s BoldChat Products, in the article. “People are at a running speed and the contact centers that care for them are at a crawl.”

To provide the type of service customers are increasingly demanding, companies need to evaluate existing technologies and software and be prepared to make the necessary investment in upgrades.

Final Thoughts

While there’s no crystal ball that can tap into customer needs now and in the future, proactive companies are making it a priority to uncover what it is their customers want – and find a way to meet those expectations. In today’s customer-driven landscape, that’s more than good business sense – it’s critical for retaining customers and staying competitive in the market.

How does your company meet increasingly high customer expectations? Do you agree with our list of suggestions above?