Over the years, customer preferences have evolved considerably. But when you look at the specific things customers want from the businesses they interact with, many of these principles and expectations have remained relatively steady. Is your business checking all of the boxes, or are you coming up short in critical areas?
Here’s What Customers Want From You
On the surface, customers want different things. They have unique interests, desires, and needs. But when you drill down beneath these surface level attributes, it becomes apparent that all customers are people – and all people ultimately seek similar things from businesses.
1. Personalized Attention
In 2018, more than ever, customers expect personalized attention from businesses. And as millennials continue to gain a larger and larger share of the consumer marketplace, this is only going to become more important.
Personalized attention looks different for every business. For example, The Geneva Suites, an assisted living home, addresses this desire by offering hands-on services like on-site therapy, 1:3 staffing, 24-hour RN support, and hourly check-ins. Clothing brands like Indochino allow online customers to order tailor-made suits that fit their exact body type and preferences. Meal delivering services like Home Chef let customers pick foods they like and order meals for the entire week.
Personalization looks different for every industry and business model, but you must find a way to give your customers some specialized attention that makes them feel unique and prioritized.
Customers are tired of being fooled, duped, and misled into thinking something other than the truth. As a business operating in a modern age of communication, there’s little room for error. If you mess up, people are going to find out. Having said that, it’s far easier to be open, honest, and transparent than to cover up and “pass the buck” to someone else.
As human beings we like being able to choose between different options. However, there are limitations to how many options we can reasonably process. In a business-customer relationship, this means giving customers two or three different options to solve a problem.
Amazon provides a great illustration of how this works in practice. Instead of presenting customers with tons of options for every possible scenario, the returns center menu offers three initial choices: return an item, return a gift, or check the status of a return. This simplified approach makes customers feel in control without feeling overwhelmed.
When you prepare to have lunch with a friend, your mind has already conjured up an idea of what this interaction will look like. To a large degree, your expectations are based on past experiences you’ve had with this person. If the friend ends up deviating from these expectations, your brain becomes confused and you feel a sense of uneasiness and dissonance.
The same is true with customers and businesses. Customers have an idea of what a business stands for and expect future interactions to be consistent with past experiences. In other words, people want consistency – an idea that a McKinsey & Company study of 27,000 American consumers supports.
“The study found that being consistent with your communication is a key factor in creating high customer satisfaction,” marketer Ross Beard writes. “It recommends you think about the promises you are making with your messaging.”
It’s okay for your brand to evolve over time, but ensure you’re remaining consistent to your core values and clearly explaining changes as they’re made. Consistent messaging will go a long way towards cementing your brand as honest and reliable.
Narrow Your Focus
One of the reasons business owners often suffer from excruciating anxiety and crippling burnout is they try to give time and energy to everything all at once. The reality is that you have finite resources and must narrow your focus to the responsibilities and tasks that matter most.
In this article, we’ve discussed some of the things customers expect most from businesses. Logically, it would follow that this is where you need to be placing your focus. The more you hone in on these elements and delegate or ignore the rest, the better off your business will be.