What makes a positive customer experience? Nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service. And those elements beat out topics like up-to-date technology, loyalty programs, and personalization. Consumers also report that most companies need to improve their customer experience.
If you’re struggling to maintain a presence, to create the right impression, it’s time to structure your plan around what the data shows customers want.
Customer expectations for speed are set by industry, service type, and even business reputation. But it’s important to remember that speed of service is also key to a positive customer experience. From ordering dinner to buying new shoes or even getting a car fixed, one of the most important factors in each of those experiences is the speed of each transaction.
80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.
54% of US consumers say most companies need to improve their customer experience.
Speed is typically associated as incredibly important to generation y and generation z, but now it’s important to everyone. Instant access and delivery are key expectations of every customer, no matter their age.
When you think about speed for your business, answer these questions:
- Can your customers easily interact with you?
- How quickly do you respond to customers who reach out to you?
- Do you have a baseline for the speed you are trying to achieve with every interaction, transaction, or repeat visit?
When it comes to convenience, customers often tell a conflicting story. Most choose price and quality when asked what matters most in their shopping experience. Only 13% of consumers say that convenience is their top shopping priority. However, nearly every consumer, 97%, has backed out of a purchase because it was inconvenient. The experience wasn’t seamless, it wasn’t easy, and they abandoned the entire purchase.
It’s important to consider the friction points in your buyer’s journey. For example, with medical billing, an invoice may be mailed, a call required for payment, an email for follow up, and confirmation of a number on the mailed document. Nearly half of all consumers say they would pay more for greater convenience. In the case of a medical bill, would a text prompt work better? An online payment system? Think about your process and what can make it frictionless and easy for your customer.
When you think about convenience for your business, answer these questions:
- How many clicks does it take to get what they need from you?
- Is the experience disconnected for the customer? Does it require them to switch from channel to channel? E.g. from email to website to phone call?
- Do you offer anything that creates greater convenience for your customer?
- What are the friction points in your customer’s journey? Can they be eliminated to make the customer experience more convenient?
Customers expect that when they ask a question, on any platform or in any environment, your employees should offer knowledgeable help. And it’s not only about product or service knowledge. Your team and organization should be crystal clear on the needs of your customer. Do they know who they are and what they need? Who is your ideal customer and what are their pain points? It’s critical that you understand how your product or service maps back to your customer’s challenges and that your employees know how to talk about the value you provide with potential customers. In fact, nearly 50% of all consumers will abandon a brand, not just a purchase, if the employees are not knowledgeable.
Make sure your organization is clear on who your customer is, what they need, and how they like to communicate about those needs with a business like yours. There’s plenty of room to stand out in this category. Only 38% of U.S. consumers report that employees they interact with actually understand their needs. And 71% report that employee interaction has a significant impact on their customer experience.
When you think about knowledgeable help for your business, answer these questions:
- Do your employees understand your customer’s needs?
- How does your business solve your audience’s challenges?
- What value does your solution provide to your customers?
- How quickly is your internal team able to communicate with each other to provide timely responses to customer inquiries?
In the words of Maya Angelou, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Standing out can start with friendly service. And there are many ways to make sure you get it right.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotels brand empowers their employees to use up to $2,000
to rescue a bad customer experience. That’s incredible! Understanding the
value that the human element has in a customer experience is a critical step to creating the right interactions. The risk of not getting the human element right is significant—60% of consumers say they will stop doing business with a brand if the service they receive is not friendly.
When you think about friendly service for your business, answer these questions:
- What are you doing to increase the level of friendliness in each of your customer interactions?
- Do you empower your employees and team to rescue a poor customer experience?
- How are you capturing customer experience data? Do your customers believe you offer friendly service?Just as there are four key elements in a positive customer experience—speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service—there are four key areas you can focus on to stand out and make the right impression to both prospects and customers:
4 Ways Your Business Can Make the Right Impression
- Social media
- Google search
- Your website
- Purchase points
Read on to find out how you can stand out.
How to stand out on social media.
Social media is often the first place your business will make an impression on prospective customers. But before you decide which platforms are right for your brand’s presence, it’s important to understand where your customers like to interact. Instead of adopting every platform or technology for the sake of being cutting edge, prioritize the ones that help you improve speed, convenience, and facilitate conversations with knowledgeable help and friendly service.
How can you make a good impression on social media? Make it easy to connect with your brand. For 89% of consumers, connecting with a brand directly impacts long-term revenue—a quick response to an initial inquiry is important, especially when deciding which brand will get the final business. When prospects and customers ask questions on social platforms, expectations are high that responses will come quickly. If your consumers spend time on Twitter, 64% expect an answer to a question within an hour. On Facebook, 85% expect a reply within six hours. Comparatively, 77% of consumers won’t wait longer than six hours for an email reply.
64% of Twitter users expect a reply to an inquiry within one hour.
85% of Facebook users expect a reply to an inquiry within 6 hours.
Despite the knowledge that consumers expect social interaction and speedy response times, enterprise businesses seem to be missing the mark. Nearly 60% of consumers who tweet about a bad experience never receive a reply. And the average response time to both complaints or comments is nine hours.
If you’re struggling to stand out on social media, start with response times. Prioritizing speed will help you create a positive customer experience, even as you field complaints or other service issues.
Bonus tip for social media:
Use Facebook to gather reviews from happy customers—reports have found that Facebook is the “most popular way consumers recommend or review local businesses.” Nearly 50% of consumers have reported using Facebook to review or recommend a local business to others. And once a review is written and posted, it’s automatically shared with all of the reviewers’ connections—helping you stand out even more on social media.
How to stand out on social media:
- Understand which platforms your customers prefer and create a solid presence on those platforms
- Make it easy for prospects and customers to connect with you—allow comments and direct messages
- Monitor your accounts and respond quickly to comments, questions, and complaints— understand customer expectations on response times, per platform
- Create content that resonates with your audience (make sure you deeply understand your audience’s challenges and needs and create content that meets their needs)
- Understand the platform—create the right hashtag strategy, posting schedule, and utilize all available features (including reviews and store shopping options like those built right into Facebook)
How to stand out in Google Search results.
In the last two years, Google has experienced a 500% increase in “_____ near me” searches. While you can’t move your business near every customer that wants to do business with your brand, you can make it more convenient to find you in a Google search.
Convenience is so important online, that more than 50% of consumers say that half or more of their purchases are influenced by convenience. In one report, a consumer is quoted saying, “Our lives are getting busier every day and not many people have the luxury to spend hours at the grocery store or department store looking for specific items.” Instead, consumers are online, looking for the convenience of a click to get their problems solved, challenges met, and needs filled.
In order to make it easier and more convenient for potential customers to find you on Google search results, there are a few simple things you can do:
Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.
If you haven’t added your business or claimed your listing, this is your first step. Doing so (and verifying your account) will make your listing eligible to appear in the search results for Search, Maps, and other services Google provides.
It’s important that after you add or claim your listing, you make sure that only you have access to your listing (thereby making you the only one who can edit your business information). To do this, verify your account. You can verify your account via email, phone, or mail.
Keep all of your information up-to-date.
Results for local searches will always favor the most relevant results for the person searching. Google wants to make sure customers find what they are looking for (so they’ll use Google again!).
Businesses that prioritize keeping their information up-to-date have a better chance of showing up in the search results. Enter all of your information in Google My Business including what you do, where you are located, and when customers can visit you. Accurate hours are key to staying relevant on a Google search, and you can even add in special hours.
Make sure your physical address, business category, and phone number are accurate and listed. If you need more detailed help with updating your Google listing, click here.
Add photos and videos to your listing.
As customers search for your business, they’ll likely view listings in the top three to five results that share photos of their products or services. Add photos to your listing to tell the right story. As Google puts it, “accurate and appealing pictures also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for.”
Make sure to add your logo to help customers recognize your business on Google and to set a cover photo to top of your profile. Google also allows you to add video to your listing which gives you a space to differentiate against competitors, show off your products or services, and make it easier for prospects to purchase your products—52% of consumers say that watching a product video makes them more comfortable with a purchase.
Standing out on Google search also means improving chances of showing up sooner, or higher on the page, in the actual results. There are a few key factors in how the results are served up, but the combination of all three gives Google a best guess on what the consumer is looking for in their search. For local inquiries, relevance, distance, and prominence prioritize the results.
Relevance: Keep your information up-to-date, include as much detail as possible, and focus on keywords in your description so Google knows how relevant you are to each search.
Distance: We know “near me” searches are growing in popularity, and while you can’t move your business, it’s important that your location is accurate on your Google My Business listing. Google may prioritize relevance and prominence over distance in the search results.
Prominence: Your business’s prominence is ranked on how well known your business is online. Review count and review scores add to your prominence rating which is why focusing on gathering reviews is so critical to standing out in a Google search. Businesses with reviews below 4+ stars risk getting filtered out altogether as Google often serves up only businesses with four or five stars.
Reviews aren’t only critical for search results, they’re important for the consumer’s decision- making process. When consumers search for a new business online, nearly 88% read reviews to determine the quality (especially one they’ve never worked with before). And if the reviews are positive, 72% of consumers say they trust the business more than they would have otherwise.
How to stand out in Google Search results:
- Make sure you claim and optimize your Google My Business listing
- Keep all of your information up-to-date to create more opportunities to show up in search results
- Add photos and videos to your listing to give prospects and customers a real-life view of your products or services
- Prioritize Google reviews to improve your prominence rating and stand out as consumers seek reviews to make purchase decisions
How to make your website stand out.
Your business may have relied on your physical storefront to make the right impression and stand out to customers, but today, especially with current events and the world continually moving more and more online, your website and online presence need to reach the right bar. You must pivot online.
It’s important to ask, is your online experience just as convenient and positive as your physical storefront? How do the two work together—your physical storefront and your website? And beyond that, does your mobile experience seamlessly transition to a desktop experience? According to PWC, consumers believe that the transition from tablet to smartphone to desktop to human is a baseline expectation. You can stand out online if your experience flows and maintains consistency, no matter the touchpoint.
Many industries utilize their online presence to generate sales leads with forms or contact us options. But again, like response times, many are too slow to follow up. During a test for web-generated leads, 37% of companies responded within one hour, 16% within one to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours, and 23% never responded at all. On average, the response time among companies that actually responded within 30 days, was 42 hours.
As for personalization and a friendlier touch online, data shows 100% of consumers want a friendly greeting. Does your website offer the friendly touch you’ve worked so hard to accomplish in-store? If personalization isn’t an option, 80% of customers still want to be noticed. And if they perceive any indifference from employees (and likely web chat operators), 80% won’t return to the business again.
One way to make sure you stand out online is to add convenience (and the opportunity for a friendly greeting) with a web chat feature. More than 41% of consumers expect to see an option to chat with someone when they visit a website. The expectation rises to 50% when consumers are browsing on their mobile device. And here’s the bonus, studies report a 30% boost to conversion when a live chat option is added to a website. It’s a great way to stand out online (and make more sales).
But what happens when the consumer can’t stick to their desktop and wait for their question to be answered? What if the answer will take longer to gather than seems reasonable for the visitor?
Be wary of adding the convenience of a web chat option unless you can truly offer a seamless transition from device to device. Look for a solution that transitions from web chat to text conversation—consumers won’t be stuck to their computer and you can continue providing friendly, knowledgeable service in a convenient and modern way.
How to make your website stand out:
- Follow up on web-generated leads quickly
- Make sure the transition from tablet to mobile to desktop to physical storefront is seamless—prioritize consistency
- Greet customers with relevant information— personalization with a friendly greeting, if possible
- Add a web chat feature—bonus if you can seamlessly transition from web to text offering convenient and knowledgeable service
How to stand out during transaction touchpoints.
Speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service all play important roles within purchase touchpoints. For speed, it can mean something as simple as instant service or as complex as instant delivery. But what’s important to note is that 40% of consumers say they will pay extra for same-day service. That hits two points—speed of delivery and convenience of getting exactly what they want when they want it.
For convenience, many grocery and retail stores have hit the mark. The National Retail Federation reported from the perspective of a customer, convenience can mean something different for everyone. One consumer stated, “I have small children, and it is so nice to be able to drive to a store and have them bring my things out to the car for me.”
When you look at the difference between an online store experience versus an in-person store experience, convenience is valued at different times. For consumers that shop online, the beginning of the journey is where convenience matters most. We already know that 97% of consumers back out of a purchase if it’s too inconvenient.
Make the experience convenient for your customers by offering relevant product or service details, online chat support (knowledgeable help and friendly service!), and a path for easy checkout, like offering pay via text.
For consumers shopping in-store, the opposite end of the journey—the checkout experience— highlights convenience as the most important. After selections are made in person, the consumer must not encounter any barriers to checkout. They
want to make their purchase and go without the hassle of lines or other challenges. And it helps if knowledgeable staff are able to quickly answer questions, upsell relevant products, and offer friendly service throughout the experience.
38% of online shoppers agree that convenience matters most at the very beginning of the customer journey, when they are researching a purchase.
40% of in-store shoppers agree that convenience matters most at checkout. If there’s a perception of inconvenience in your industry, differentiate your product or service based on its relative convenience. Remove barriers to research online and create quick and easy transaction opportunities in store.
How to stand out during transaction touchpoints:
- Offer opportunities for increased convenience and speed—like same-day service or delivery
- Make the online experience as convenient as possible—present the right details about your product or service and offer online chat support for additional questions
- Remove barriers to checkout in-store and ensure that staff is trained to offer knowledgeable help, including relevant upsells
How can your business stand out and make the right impression?
Businesses that transition to the next phase of our economy will prioritize what the customer has already told us is important—speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service. If you’re going to stand out in tomorrow’s marketplace, you need to improve your customer experience across all critical customer interactions, from their first impression of your brand to their purchase transaction and all the interactions in between.
With the right interaction management technology, you can focus on the touchpoints that matter most:
- Manage all communication, from every social channel, in one inbox—never post a delayed response again
- Connect with customers through your Google My Business listing with texting—add even more convenience to the online search experience
- Transition online web conversations easily to text—funnel all communication back to one inbox
- Offer seamless transaction experiences— speed up purchases with convenient text payment options
Press send and stand out with with Podium.
Podium offers a platform of messaging tools for local businesses. From getting found online to winning repeat business, Podium adds speed and convenience to every critical customer interaction and makes it easy for you and your team to manage every interaction from a single inbox.
It’s the simplest way to connect to consumers by pressing send—talking to customers, collecting reviews, and gathering insights in real-time through text.
- Press send to attract more leads with frictionless communication
- Press send to retain customers by providing a modern, convenient customer experience
- Press send to save time by making work more efficient for you and your team