5 Expectations for Your Company’s Online Presence

My grandma tells me all the time that when she was raising her kids, people didn’t have a bunch of expectations for shopping: they were happy with stores like Sears and J.C. Penney’s. No questions asked. No excessive demands.

How the world has changed.

Now not only do customers have a long list of expectations for product /service quality, speed-of-delivery, and customer service, but customers also have several prioritized expectations regarding their interactions with brands online.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the five most important things you need to know about when it comes to what your online customers expect from your company.

1. Personalization

How ironic that in our online world where so many business and personal interactions can be anonymous, customers are desiring very personalized experiences

Wells Fargo found that 60% of banking transactions are made by customers who still prefer to do business with a teller. That’s despite the fact that account holders have services available to them online and via mobile devices.

Your customers expect communication with your company to involve more than a fill-in-the-blank-with-their-name email. Using mass mailing with MS Excel is definitely passé; several web domain providers now provide technology to help you send mass mails with intricate personalization.

Similarly, using an automated database can fetch important information, such as name, gender, age, location, occupation, etc. to your customer service reps, which can be invaluable in everything from drafting emails to speaking with your customer and helping them solve their problems.

2. Transparency

We’re all saying au revoir to the days when our businesses controlled the information about our products and industries. Customers can now access all of the public information and rumors.

Especially with the rise of the cause-driven millennial generation, your customers seek this information because they aren’t simply investing in what your company does anymore.

They’re now investing in how you’re doing it, who is doing it, and why you’re doing it.

Being transparent to a high degree with customers cements trust and loyalty into your relationship.

3. Speed

According to Forbes, today’s consumers’ definition of what is fast has grown more extreme on an almost daily basis. An escalating expectation of timeliness doesn't just apply to product and service delivery anymore. (Kudos on that, Amazon).

It applies to the speed of response they expect from you to any issue they have or query they shoot your way. On Twitter, 53% of customers expect a brand to respond in under an hour. That number jumps to 72% when they have complaints!

"We respond to all inquiries within 24 hours,” means the same to your online customer as, “We respond to all inquiries within 24 days.” If you convert to the speed of internet time, 24 hours is simply not good enough.

4. Consistent Communication

All it takes is a quick glance around to see how much time is spent online using social networks. People Snapchat, post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram stories all day, every day. This includes your customer base.

When your customers access their social media platforms, all of their favorite people and brands are there – consistently, rain-or-shine, highlighting their products/services in flattering ways, engaging in trends and even commenting on current events.

This consistent presence extends to their email inbox as well. If you don’t consistently communicate with your customers, your brand will become an outsider and will likely lose the attention-span they give to other messages.

A key objective? Become an insider. Become a welcome presence on your customer’s social media newsfeed and a source of valuable content within their email inbox.

Here’s a few creative ideas to encourage consistent communication within different industries:

•  Utility customers tend to want emergency notifications texted to their cellular devices.

•  B2B customers often prefer periodic emails notifying them of scheduled maintenance or contract renewals, especially within the service industry.

•  Retail and tech customers are more likely to keep a keen eye on social media as opposed to their email inbox for the latest news.

5. Ask for Feedback

Your customers see the business relationship they have with you like this: They’ve invested time and money into you. In return, they expect you to show how you have used their money and that you are interested in hearing their opinions about, well, pretty much everything.

They expect to have a voice in how to make your products and services even better.

They’re not the business experts though, you might be thinking. True, but they do make your business possible, and they can in turn become your greatest marketing assets: i.e. superfan champions of your brand.

Give them a channel to sound off their thoughts on and invite them to do so. When you find good ideas to implement, credit the source publicly.

Give the customer a shout-out on your social media or blog. Stroke their mane. Give them a happy rush. Their loyalty will more than repay you. If your company has any questions about these 5 expectations, reach out to 10twelve.