Maybe it’s my fault for shopping after 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon, but I still expect to be able to complete my transaction and walk away with the goods. To be fair, I was shopping online and I wasn’t purchasing your standard everyday retail items (I was buying downloadable marketing information) but my experience was poor because my expectations weren’t met.
The online buying process went without a hitch and I sat eagerly awaiting the confirmation email that would allow me to download the information. I didn’t have to wait long, but the confirmation email didn’t include the report as an attachment. Nor did it provide a link to download the report. Instead it said “You will receive your data within the next four working hours. Our working hours are 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.”
My expectations were dashed. I didn’t have the marketing information that I had paid for and wanted to read over the weekend. My experience had quickly moved into the negative, I had parted with the cash, and I still had to wait until Monday to receive the information. They got my order this time, but I’ll look elsewhere next time.
So what went wrong, and what can be done differently? The fact that I did not receive the data for up to four hours was not actually the issue here. The issue lies in the difference between my expectations and my actual experience. If a customer’s actual experience of a service does not meet their expectations, as is the case here, it goes down as a poor customer experience and they may never return. On the flip side, a good customer experience is had when customer expectations are exceeded, but just because a customer has bought from you doesn’t mean that you met their expectations. In this example, the easiest solution would have been for the website to provide clear delivery information throughout the buying process. This would have given me the information to readjust my expectations before I completed the transaction. Alternatively, the company could go out and speak to their target audience in order to find out what their needs and expectations are. They could then use this information to enhance their service to provide a positive customer experience.
The challenge retailers and e-tailers face today is to understand their customers’ expectations and provide a service that exceeds these expectations. In providing such a customer experience for your target audience there is no reason for your customers to go elsewhere, and every reason for them to invite their friends to come and join them.
Do you know what your customers expect when they interact with your products and services? We believe the only way to truly understand customer expectations is to be there with them when they experience your company.
About Ali Carmichael
Ali (or Alasdair) is an experienced project manager who loves his Gantt charts and milestones! He has over 12 years' experience managing successful online experiences for world class brands. Ali is responsible for ensuring our clients love what we do for them. Follow Ali on twitter @AliJCarmichael