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Don’t just meet customer expectations: the complete lowdown on exceeding them



It’s not enough to meet customer expectations. Today’s successful businesses know they must anticipate their customers’ needs and surpass their expectations.

For example, one-third of businesses lost customers last year because they couldn’t keep up with their buyers’ changing expectations.

Let’s see how to avoid becoming that statistic and become a customer-centric organization that excels in delivering enjoyable customer experiences.

Key takeaways:

  • High customer expectations are a result of people becoming more stressed. Customers no longer prioritize loyalty to a business because there are more significant stressors in their lives.
  • The spoils go to the business that understands and delivers two things: making customers’ lives easier and making customers’ lives better.
  • To learn customer preferences, you can conduct A/B testing on your website or marketing campaigns.
  • Being proactive means anticipating customers’ requests. Find ways to be proactive in your business to save customers the work of making requests.
  • Regarding customer service, focus on reducing customer effort and meeting customers where they are (i.e., using the customer’s preferred communication channel).

Why you must do more than meet customer expectations

Before March 2020, a business could tout its product quality or unbeatable prices. In a post-COVID world, however, customer experience became the dominant factor that mattered to people. Why is that? 

We’re living in a time when people realize that life is short and objects don’t matter as much as experiences do. People became more stressed, and customers no longer prioritized loyalty to a business because there were more significant stressors in their lives. Customers simply wanted to do business with a company that improved their lives. 

So, what does that mean for companies now that we live in a world where customers have very high expectations? The spoils go to the business that understands and delivers two things: making customers’ lives easier and making customers’ lives better. If a company isn’t doing that, it may become irrelevant.

Here are four observable benefits of exceeding customer expectations:

  1. An increase in customer lifetime value
  2. Maintain a competitive advantage
  3. An increase in “word-of-mouth” advertising
  4. Boost in sales and profits


4 ways to exceed customer expectations

Here is the inside scoop on not only meeting but exceeding customer expectations.

1. Look at customer feedback

Look at existing customer feedback for your product or service. Better yet, read reviews on your competitors’ products. What can you learn? Are customers complaining about a product feature? Design and market your product based on customer feedback from competitors, solving particular pain points. 

Furthermore, ensure your product or service is of high quality so customers aren’t posting pain points regarding them. Customer opinion is particularly vital in the arena of online product reviews. A dip in product rating can have detrimental effects on revenue. Continual product or service assessment and improvement keep your offering at the highest caliber.

Next, discover your customers’ preferences. Learning this information can be as simple as posting a question on Facebook or Twitter. Here are some questions for the post:

  • What frustrates you the most about a type of product or service?
  • How do you feel a company can waste your time?
  • Where do you see yourself in a year?

The last question allows you to help customers get from where they are now to where they want to be.

Finally, you can conduct A/B testing on your website or marketing campaigns to learn customer preferences.

2. Personalization

Personalization means tailoring an experience (e.g., marketing message or product) to a specific individual. To achieve this, you must know your customer. Some data is readily available, such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Purchase history

It would help if you trended behaviors over time for other data, such as customers’ interests and ideals. Once you have that, you can create meaningful campaigns that provide substantial and personal value to your customer.

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3. Be proactive

Being proactive means anticipating customers’ requests. Think of what your customer needs before they do and offer it to them. How can you do that? 

Let’s take an example. Say your company is a printing service. You offer a range of products like cards, mugs, calendars, etc. One day you receive a request for 500 business cards. In this case, meeting customer expectations means filling the order and providing a seamless checkout experience. (Note that a seamless checkout experience does not exceed expectations.) Exceeding customer expectations could be:

  • Encouraging the user to create a login to gain loyalty rewards
  • Saving the payment information for an even faster checkout process in the future
  • Creating targeted emails with products featuring the user’s company logo obtained from the business card order
  • Using a push notification asking if the user needs to restock their supply

Find ways to be proactive in your business to save customers the work of making requests.

4. Deliver excellent customer service

Nowadays, customers are typically happy to have a self-service portal or chatbot for an expedient resolution to simple problems. Ensure you have these features available across your digital channels. When customers speak to a live agent, your sales and support agents should strive for the following:

  • Being knowledgeable about the product, service, or the issue
  • Resolving the problem within that single session (i.e., not needing to keep the case open for several days or longer)
  • Treating the customer with dignity and respect
  • Being a good listener
  • Demonstrating compassion and empathy
  • Using positive language

Also, know your customer’s preferred method of communication. For example, millennials may prefer using live chat, while older customers may prefer a phone call. If you’re not meeting customers on their preferred channel, your competitor will. 

Finally, consider analyzing your customer effort score as a barometer of your organization’s service performance with customers.

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Exceed, not just meet customer expectations with Optimizely

You must go beyond meeting customer expectations to expand your business. Optimizely’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP) helps you create exceptional user experiences at every digital touchpoint. Our personalization solutions build on real-time user data and insights to deliver content, campaigns and product recommendations that resonate with your customers. 

Contact Optimizely today to learn more about DXP.

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1



HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.

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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer



Advocate | DigitalMarketer

Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.

So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.

Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database. 

The most important part of this step is asking these four questions. 

What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us? 

These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.

What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?

Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine! 

What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service? 

This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold. 

If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say? 

This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers. 

Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.

When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase. 

Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.

For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions



Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.


What are Instacart Promotions?


Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”


– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart


Source: Instacart


How Do Instacart Promotions Work?


Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  


Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart


Instacart Promotions Benefits


Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.


Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  


Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives


With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 


Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 


Access Real-Time Performance Insights 


The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.


Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.


“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti


Interested in Instacart Promotions?


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.


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