Raising the CX Bar in the Expectation Economy


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Customer expectations have been on the rise for the past two decades, but businesses continually fail to adapt to the changing customer expectation landscape. Amazon, Starbucks, Uber and the like are able to provide services and experiences that are fast, smooth and reliable, and customers across industries are expecting the quality of customer service and experience to match these but they are often left receiving the bare minimum.

This blog post will explore some elements of the Expectation Economy and how you can make changes to your CX programme to accommodate rising customer expectations.

What is the Expectation Economy all about?

The expectation economy is understood to be the shift in how customers interact with businesses as a result of disruptive brands, like Uber or Airbnb, changing the way we expect to be served. The way customers see it, if one business can cut through the nonsense to innovate to make an experience better, why can’t all businesses do the same? While the Expectation Economy has led to innovations across sectors to improve the customer experience, it has also rendered customers impatient and demanding. This puts a lot of pressure on businesses and employees alike to perform, but it is the new normal.

So, what do customers expect?

Below are some examples of what customers have come to expect, each revealing new trends surrounding what customers want from the businesses they spend on:

Rising Quality – Customers don’t have to tolerate subpar service or product quality with the likes of Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews and Trustpilot at their disposal to notify them of standards, informing their decision to make a purchase or not. Consequently, there is an expectation that products will be effective and of a higher quality due to peer-to-peer transparency that comes with the popularity of review sites, which keep businesses honest and accountable. For today’s customers, better quality doesn’t necessarily mean higher prices, brands like Uber, Airbnb and Glossier have disrupted industries with more affordable alternatives while maintaining a higher quality of products and services.

Positive Impact – Consumers, particularly Millennial and Gen Z consumers, want to “do good” when spending. These consumers care if your packaging is made from recycled paper; if your coffee is fair trade; or whether or not your products are tested on animals. Millennials, most notably, are often wary of governments’ role in protecting the environment or helping to solve global issues, so the brands that step up to the plate are of particular value.

Personal Expression – Consumerism has shifted such that personality is at the forefront of how individuals spend. Possessions still matter, but experiences are valued more. This expectation relates to status, so businesses that offer experiential opportunities have an edge amongst customers.

How can you adapt your CX to meet rising expectations?

CX by Design – Don’t just go about designing experiences for your customers based on what you think they might want. Play the role of the customer to see where there are gaps in the experience. In your customer feedback, don’t just pay attention to the glowing reviews and the complaints. Look at the average customer feedback and see how you can improve upon an ordinary experience to make it even easier. This way you can consider what your customer generally wants and needs and meet their expectations with greater ease.

Personalise It – If you are providing a good or service, personalisation can make a customer’s experience so much more convenient and appealing. Innovate ways to demonstrate to your customers that you know and appreciate them. This is particularly easy for retailers. Suggest the products they may have added to their online cart but forgotten about. Ask them if they’d like to repurchase a product before they’ve already run out. Remind them of their previous order to see if there’s anything they’d like to buy again.

Think Outside the Box – Try not to think of customer’s experiences with your business in isolation. Think about the other businesses your customers are interacting with and how they are meeting expectations. In the Expectation Economy, customer expectations are transferable. If I can get an on-demand ride through Uber, why can’t I get an on-demand doctor or bank transfer or dry-cleaning service? Pay attention to the trends and see how they can be incorporated into your business’ CX.

The motivating factors surrounding how and why customers of all demographics spend has changed, no longer following traditionally held beliefs on customer behaviour. As Qubit notes, segmentation still matters, but brands should no longer divide their customers based on the traditional lines of age and gender, but rather need to examine more meaningful segmentation based on customers’ interests and behaviours, which requires big data analysis.

As customer expectations continue to rise in the future, can your business keep up?

Sarah-Nicole LeFlore
Sarah-Nicole "Nikki" is a Customer Success Manager at CX Index, a Dublin-based Voice of the Customer (VOC) Vendor. She contributes her insights on the many benefits of prioritising customer experience to the CX Index blog. She is currently based in London but has lived in New York, Dublin and Paris. She has a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and an MSc from Trinity College Dublin.


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