How to Meet (and Exceed) Customer Expectations in 2022

Customer service will once again be an integral part of your CX strategy in 2022, but what you did in the last year shouldn’t be exactly what you do in the year ahead. The strategy set forth for 2022 needs to be tailored to keep up with customer expectations.

One thing is for sure: customer expectations always shift, and this is even more true in the aftermath of a global pandemic that reshaped the ways in which brands and customers interact.

Stella Connect by Medallia conducted a research study that revealed the top trends for 2022, all of which emphasize the importance of a customer-centric approach due to evolving customer expectations. In today’s world of immediacy, patience is almost nonexistent and there’s an expectation to provide solutions right this moment. And if your brand can’t do that, customers will vocalize their experiences for the world to see.

Service recovery does still make a difference after an initial service experience goes poorly — the catch is that it needs to be done in a swift fashion. In an effort to make things right, remember that you’ll be up against time.

While it may feel overwhelming at times, assembling a playbook of strategies to meet customer expectations will earn significant outcomes. Your brand will run more efficiently, and customers will gravitate toward its products or services as part of a stronger relationship with the brand.

5 Tips to Meet & Exceed Customer Expectations

Customer expectations shouldn’t just be met, though. In every service experience, your brand should aim to also exceed customer expectations and prove why you’re an industry leader. It’ll draw a distinction between your brand and its competitors that customers will take notice of. As a result of increased customer satisfaction (CSAT), loyal customers will return to your brand for repeat purchases.

Here’s how to meet and exceed customer expectations in 2022.

#1. Turn Agents Into Experts Prepared for Any Inquiry

When a customer reaches out, they expect your brand to be equipped with a customer service team that knows who they are, what they’re looking for, and how you can help them. Fail to do that, and you may lose that customer (and revenue).

60% of consumers will stop buying from a brand after a poor service experience, according to our report. Where do they go after ditching a brand? To the competition, of course.

Coach your agents to serve as experts who know the ins and outs of your brand, its products or services, and the policies in place to achieve the best possible outcomes. It’s easy for customers to recognize whether or not an agent is well-trained and knowledgeable, so don’t skimp on coaching and training that maximizes skill sets.

Your customers will appreciate the accurate, complete service experiences provided to resolve their inquiries. As this becomes the norm, it’s likely that real-time customer feedback highlights positive reviews for agents’ efforts. Yet it’s only because you established a customer service team full of experts prepared for any inquiry that comes their way.

In turn, this reduces customer effort score (CES) and improves first call resolution (FCR) to make customers happier.

Agents might not know every answer off the top of their heads, but that’s why a learning management system (LMS) could also be useful to your customer service team in addition to an actionable coaching plan. It’ll allow the customer service team to tap into a knowledge base that fills in any gaps for them before, during, and after any service experiences to ensure customers get the information and answers they need.

Just remember that agents should be experts, and even experts could use some assistance here and there with the help of an LMS to get the right answer to the customer every time.

#2. Be Quick, As Much As Accurate

In customer service, there’s a need for speed. It’s getting even faster in 2022, so buckle up and put the pedal to the metal.

Customers enjoy one-click ordering and next-day delivery today. If that doesn’t tell you something about customer expectations, this sure will: in the Customer Service Trends for 2022 report, consumers ranked response time as what matters most to them when contacting customer service.

So it’s clear that customer expectations aren’t only about getting the right answer. Now, customers want to receive the right answer at the right time. And, no matter what you think, the right time for your customers is right now.

Shrinking wait times to zero could be impossible depending on a variety of factors such as staffing levels and overall resources; however, it should be realistic to tighten the period between the start of an inquiry and its resolution to 10 minutes or less.

#3. Deliver Positive Experiences to Earn Positive Reviews

Experiences will surface online in the form of reviews — especially after poor service experiences that leave customers feeling disappointed, angry, or frustrated.

40% of consumers will share their poor service experience online, an increase from 35% in the previous research study published a year earlier. But the vocalization doesn’t stop online. In terms of friends and family, 49% of consumers say they will tell their loved ones to stop buying from a brought that left them with an undesirable experience.

The data suggests that customers feel more inclined than ever to influence the decisions of their peers by vocalizing their own experiences. It proves just how critical the purpose of customer service really is. If your brand doesn’t meet and exceed customer expectations, your brand’s reputation could be tarnished quickly.

What you need to do is monitor the voice of the customer (VoC) and measure customer sentiment to understand why customers feel the way they do.

Once you build your CX strategy to deliver more positive service experiences, you’ll earn more positive reviews.

#4. Prioritize Win-Back Opportunities Using Service Recovery

When one door closes, another door opens. In terms of customer service, think of it as when a poor service experience closes one door, the door to service recovery opens with an opportunity to retain the customer. All hope is not lost after that initial service experience that went awry.

Customers are willing to give a second chance — our research points to 97% of consumers saying they’d do business with a brand again if a poor service experience was turned into a positive one immediately.

But to meet and exceed customer expectations with service recovery, you can’t miss twice. If you fail to prove yourself the second time around, it’s time to bid adieu to a customer for the foreseeable future. It’ll be far too time-consuming and costly to try winning them back in the short term after repeated disappointment with your brand.

#5. Create a Human-to-Human Connection with Customers

No amount of digitization and automation can replace the impact of human interaction between an agent and a customer. While artificial intelligence and machine learning certainly aid in streamlining operations, they’re far from perfect and lack the ability to build trust.

Customer service teams that put agents on the front lines can lead with empathy that makes customers feel heard, understood, and valued.

Chatbots and help centers as self-help resources are definitely useful, but don’t give up the human touch that reminds customers how much you really care about being there for them.

The Biggest Customer Service Trends in 2022 to Meet & Exceed customer Expectations

Industry leaders recognize the shifts in customer expectations taking place, and they’re preparing for what’s in store throughout 2022 with data-driven strategies that don’t only meet expectations but vastly exceed expectations as well.

In the report Customer Service Trends for 2022: Preparing for the Future of Customer Service, we’ll reveal how customer expectations evolved and why you need to reshape your CX strategy today.

Customer Service Trends for 2022