Meet the NOW Customer
The stakes have been raised. Is your company ready to serve the needs of today’s consumers?
It should come as no surprise that the customer has changed. We’ve all changed.
Today’s customer expects instant access, immediate gratification, rapid resolutions, and engaged interactions from their brands, courtesy of the real-time economy and the higher-than-high standards set by companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify. Today’s customer is always online—and always on—through chat, messaging, email, and social media.
Here’s the thing: they expect the same from you that they expect from the behemoths. The exact same. As much as our fast-paced, hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world has created a new type of customer, it has also created a new covenant between companies and their customers. A covenant to engage each and every customer on their own terms. Yet too many companies still force customers to go where the business is set up to serve them, deflecting volume but not actually solving the customer’s need here and now.
The hard truth is this: Anything short of meeting this new consumer—think of them as the NOW Customer—right where they are amounts to nothing less than customer neglect. It’s worse than a bad experience, although it is that; it’s an experience that leaves the customer feeling dissatisfied, unimportant, angry, and disengaged. It’s bad business.
Perhaps we’ve given you the impression that today’s consumers are nothing more than modern-day Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—spoiled complainers, making unrealistic demands of everyone around them, belting out “I Want It Now” right up to the moment they topple into the trash heap. For better or worse, it’s not so simple (though we did make a fun Veruca Salt video, just for kicks).
How fast is fast enough?
When it comes to customer service, immediacy is essential. In its first post-COVID-19 State of the Connected Customer report, Salesforce found that 83% of customers expect to engage with someone immediately when contacting a company—up from 78% in 2019. And it’s no surprise that, at a time when consumers spend more time online than off, they are increasingly likely to interact with companies through digital channels more than ever before.
This begs the question: how fast is fast enough?
Well, the brands that scored highest in Simplr’s 2021 State of Ecommerce Customer Service report, 800 online retailers answered emails in less than 15 minutes and responded to live chats in under 30 seconds. If that sounds like a tall order, even during your regular business day, consider that peak online browsing hours (generally, 5pm to midnight Eastern time) often begin after your best rep has logged off for the night.
It’s clear that meeting the NOW Customer in the moment puts the onus on your organization to be omnichannel and always-on. But there’s more to the NOW Customer than the mere need for speed.
NOW Customers value human connection
A company’s ability to make a human connection matters an awful lot to consumers in the NOW era.
A full 68% of customers expect brands to demonstrate empathy (even though they say only 38% actually do so consistently). More than 80% say a company’s trustworthiness matters more than it did a year ago (although more than a third question whether companies truly have their customers’ best interests in mind). And ethics, transparency, and corporate accountability are more likely to shape both brand perceptions and purchase behaviors in the post-COVID-19 era.
Ultimately, customers feel an emotional connection to the brands they buy the most. These loyal customers have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the brands they love 26% more than the average.
In short: Speed. Availability. Empathy. Trust. Ethics. Transparency. Accountability. Let’s be honest: These are not the NOW Customer’s unreasonable aspirations. They are any person’s reasonable expectations. And they are the basic building blocks of a NOW-era customer experience
Meeting the demands of the NOW Customer is achieveable (and necessary)
Just because the basic tenents of great customer connection are reasonable, doesn’t mean they’re easy. But they can be achieved, thanks to NOW CX.
Think about it: Are you pushing your customers away by limiting support to your business hours or your preferred channels? Are you relying on unhelpful bots, frustrating self-service tools or FAQs, essentially telling your online customers, “Figure it out yourself”?
We encourage businesses to pursue NOW CX, a movement that seeks to transform CX from a cost center to a revenue generator while winning and nurturing NOW Customers along the way. In the book Experience is Everything, Simplr CEO Eng Tan and CMO Daniel Rodriguez debunk the current contact center model and explain how enterprise brands have generated more revenue from a NOW CX approach to customer support.