10 ways your brand can influence customer expectations | Tiller Digital

10 ways your brand can influence customer expectations

Brandon Nickerson
October 29, 2020

High-quality products at a fair price. That used to be enough. But today’s customers want more – personalization, preferred communication channels, value alignment, and more. Expectations have never been higher. Yet a whopping 51% of customers (B2B and B2C) say that most brands don’t actually measure up to their brand expectations.

That’s not a very positive rating. Especially because 76% of customers will have no issue taking their business elsewhere when a brand fails to meet their expectations. And in the ever-expanding tech and SaaS (software as a service) markets, there are plenty of options to choose from.

As a growing tech or SaaS company, you need to understand what your audience expects from your brand, then do everything in your power to deliver, or risk losing prospects to a company that does it better.

Based on our work with tech and SaaS companies and recent research by Salesforce, we’ve identified 10 modern customer expectations and offered practical ways you can improve your offering and win more business.

1. Connect with customers online and offline

While phone calls, and face-to-face meetings are important, studies show that 55% of customers prefer to connect over digital channels, and 40% of customers aren’t interested in doing business with a brand that doesn’t use their preferred communication channel.

Your website is the ultimate information hub and the ideal place to offer a variety of online channels. Leverage social media icons in your footer, include a live chat integration, perfect your online forms, or offer online video meetings. Make it easy for customers to connect, and give them plenty of online methods to choose from.

 

2. Be readily available

We get it. The B2B tech and SaaS industries are fast-paced. Your team is juggling sales, marketing, product development, customer service – the list goes on. With so much going on it can be hard to be available and responsive to customers.

But if you’re going to meet customer expectations, you have to be there when they want to engage. 71% of customers expect real-time communication. And 78% expect your brand to solve their problem (regardless of how complex it might be) with a single contact.

That’s no small feat. We get that. But there are strategies you can put in place to improve customer response times:

  • Integrate a real-time communications tool (e.g. live chat or video call functionality) into your website, and leverage workflows to connect your customers to the right people at the right time.
  • Establish a company-wide response time standard, complete with incentives for team members that achieve or exceed it.
  • Evaluate your current workflow and identify communication inefficiencies or redundancies.
  • Clarify employee roles and responsibilities so that everyone understands who is responsible for delivering response times within customer expectations.

3. Consistent brand messaging

Speaking of communication, make sure your brand messaging is consistent across all channels – both traditional and digital. If you use a certain tone in your website copy, use it for your print marketing too. And always follow brand guidelines to maintain a cohesive set of visuals.

Customers become familiar with your brand – the look, feel, and sound of it. If you stray from their brand expectations, customers can become confused or lose trust in your brand.

 

4. Offer personalized experiences

84% of customers prefer brands that treat them like people, not just another sale. Personalization makes customers feel valued and can help your brand meet customer expectations.

In the B2B tech and SaaS world, personalization can include strategies like sending customers content that is specific to their preferences, enabling customized product dashboards, or offering a wide range of API integrations that will work with an existing tech stack.

 

5. Understand the customer journey

Before you can meet customer expectations, you have to become intimately familiar with the customer journey – from initial brand awareness and perception through to post-sale support. Understanding each customer touchpoint, including any friction or frustrations, is key to developing an effective B2B customer experience strategy.

Two ideas to help you get the ball rolling:

  • Bring your team together and physically draw a map of the customer journey. Include every direct and indirect point-of-contact you can think of, and arrange them in chronological order.
  • Ask customers for feedback on their experience with your brand, and ask them to explain situations where they felt satisfied or disappointed with the experience.

 

6. Understand the importance of data protection

As brands increasingly engage with customers online, customer privacy concerns grow. 84% of customers report their brand loyalty increases when a business prioritizes data protection and security.

When a customer gives you their email address, phone number, credit card information, etc., they are trusting you to protect it.

Be clear and forthcoming with customers about what you collect, why you collect it, and how you’ll protect it. Because establishing trust is critical to both customer acquisition and retention.

 

7. Take a stand on social issues

In the old days, business was business. Personal issues, political stances, and social initiatives stayed at home. No longer. Today, 73% of customers report they care more about a company’s ethics than they did only one year ago. What’s more, 76% believe that businesses are responsible for giving back to their communities.

In 2020, we all saw the world explode with political and social movements. Businesses across the globe, regardless of industry, grew bolder and publically took a stand on critical issues like racial equality. It permeated social media, company websites, and marketing campaigns.

These moments highlight today’s customer expectations. To do business with a company that shares their ethics and values. To meet these expectations, consider running a social media campaign focused on your company values or add a page to your website about your team’s involvement in the community. You might be surprised how this positively impacts your brand awareness and perception. But only if it’s genuine. Customers can smell insincerity from a mile away. Greenwashing or similar brand attempts to leverage social movements for their own sakes are brand killers.

 

8. Company values & mission

Customers expect brands to clearly communicate their values and company mission. At Tiller, we always encourage brands to include this key information on their website, typically on an About page. And in our experience, when a prospective buyer is debating between two companies with similar offerings, they compare the corporate values and overall mission.

 

9. Strong social media presence

It’s no secret, social media is a must-have for just about every business, in every industry. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide you with an enormous opportunity to improve brand awareness and perception. And customers expect to find frequent, current information about your brand on these channels.

But not only do customers use social media for research and brand comparison, but they also use it to engage in the buying process. Connections and conversations through LinkedIn can quickly turn into qualified opportunities. Especially if you deliver great response times. When it comes to social media, 42% of customers expect someone from your team to respond to them within the hour.

If your company isn’t already on social media, get on it, get active, and start treating social channels like the lead generators they are.

 

10. Focus on innovation

56% of customers are on the lookout for innovative brands that regularly offer products or services with the latest tech or new ways of doing things. And 75% expect brands to use new technologies to deliver better customer experiences.

For tech and SaaS companies, these stats are incredibly relevant. Customers expect innovation, so be careful not to invest all of your resources into a single product or service offering that can’t adapt as technologies change. Instead, be on the lookout for opportunities to improve or expand your offering to continue to meet customer needs.

Are you meeting customer expectations or falling short?

Managing customer expectations is an ongoing journey, but it’s well worth the investment. After all, if your brand doesn’t measure up, what’s stopping customers from moving on to a brand that does? But, if you consistently deliver customer experiences specifically catered to their wants and needs, you might just win customers for life.

If your website is lacking some of the strategies we’ve mentioned, like consistent messaging, company values, or personalized experiences, we’d love to discuss how we can help.

 

Source: Third Edition State of the Connected Customer – 2019 Report – Salesforce Research

Brandon Nickerson
Chief Design Officer – With over 12 years experience in branding and web design, both overseeing and executing design, Brandon brings a broad-minded and precise strategic approach to Tiller projects.

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