Word of mouth has gone viral and it’s having an impact on businesses around the country. While customer facing companies, such as e-commerce stores, bear the brunt of these changing expectations, no business is entirely free from their clutches. Here are five ways social media is changing customer expectations
#1 Customers expect it to be easy to contact you
If you run a small e-commerce store from home, you don’t want customers calling you at 2am to ask what shade of blue your ‘blue towel’ is. However, in the age of instant communications, customers expect to be able to get in touch easily and through any channel they like. Twitter and Facebook have made big brands seem accessible, so you need to be, too. Make sure your contact information is readily available. Ideally, give customers a choice of several communications channels – email, phone and social media, for example.
#2 Customers expect a reply. Now.
When complaints came by letter, you probably had at least a few days to reply. Now, social media streams provide instant, live conversations raising everyone’s expectations. If you don’t answer the phone during normal business hours, let emails fester for a week before replying or don’t respond to social media messages, you may find that by the time you quote for a job, it’s already been done.
#3 Customers aren’t afraid to complain in public
Angry comments that have gone viral have dragged changes in behaviour and even policy out of big businesses, including major e-commerce stores, airlines and government departments, so if a quiet email doesn’t work, expect your customers to take to Twitter. This makes dealing with privately sent messages a priority, as it can help avoid the public outcry. Of course, not every grumpy customer has an audience of thousands, but if you’re unlucky, they may still star in the search results for your brand.
#4 Customers expect to have heard of you
Recommendations have always been important for business, but with the advent of social media the reach of an individual recommendation – or condemnation – has grown exponentially. With e-commerce stores making it easy to quickly share products, news sites making stories shareable and everyone else jumping on the bandwagon, the ripple effect is stronger than ever. Individual recommendations still carry weight, and a site without incoming links, mentions elsewhere and third-party site reviews is likely to be regarded as suspect by customers as well as search engines.
#5 Customers expect to find reviews
While few people would sit down and write a single letter talking about their newest purchase, a Facebook share or a Tweet can easily reach a hundred friends. These reviews remain accessible by search engines for years, so niche customers will often expect to have heard of any brand that’s any good. Even the number of reviews is a factor, with some customers choosing a product or a seller simply on the basis of the volume of ratings.
We’re not just designers and developers but also consumers and have been Ecommerce website owners ourselves. We have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in digital shopping and customer expectations. If you are based in Portsmouth, Hampshire or surrounding areas and would like to discuss how to manage social media for your business, view our portfolio or make contact with our web design and digital marketing team. We really like to talk.
Danielle, Project Manager – boxChilli Digital Marketing