How customer expectations are changing in the digital age


Not only since the Corona crisis has digitization gained importance in all areas of a company.
The crisis may also have changed the younger generation’s expectations of communication – or are existing wishes simply becoming more apparent?
There are many indications that Covid-19 is giving a “digital push” as well as a long-term change in the purchasing behaviour of customers.

As mentioned in our Fireside Chat #028, a study has recently been published – the “Omnichannel Readiness Index Switzerland”.
Among other things, 1000 consumers from German- and French-speaking Switzerland were asked what they expect from online shops. Questions vary from the importance of different possibilities and features on merchants’ websites to fulfillment and payment options.

It is not surprising to us that customers increasingly expect digital features from retailers – or even take them for granted. Any entrepreneur who does not respond to the new needs here will quickly lose customers – and thus revenue.

In particular, purchasing via smartphone is becoming increasingly important. In addition, the demands of the customers are changing. They want the goods they have ordered to be delivered to their front door as quickly and cheaply as possible.

But where should one start?

We believe that even small changes can strengthen customer relationship in the long term and satisfy changing demands.


Digital communication and contact possibilities

The most important contact option for the Swiss respondents is a shop e-mail address, followed by the contact form and the telephone hotline. However, one third of those surveyed would also like to have alternative features, such as the possibility of contacting businesses via WhatsApp.

In principle, each business owner should provide the customer relationship with at least one of these contact options. But this alone is not enough. Automatic confirmation e-mails and fast processing of requests should also be part of the process to ensure customer satisfaction.

Information about store openinghours on the retailer’s website as is a integration in the Google My Business Account are essential.This way, the customer is quickly and directly provided with the information they are looking for.

A cross-channel communication strategy may sound daunting and complicated at first. However, SMEs may initially limit themselves to a small number of channels. Depending on the respective target group, the offer does not have to include all available channels directly, but rather those that are in demand and can also be served with the available resources.

By using application programming interfaces (APIs) and cloud-based communication platforms, companies can then integrate various communication channels.
This integration is to strengthen the customer relationship via apps or messenger services.


Online presence and mobile availability

Customers today want more than an electronic product catalog. In order to gain the interest and trust of users in the long term, it is becoming increasingly important to offer them a virtual world of experience and many communication and sales channels.

But regardless of whether the focus is on stationary trade or an online shop, your own website must be optimised for mobile use. This is confirmed by the figures from the ORI survey: 80% of the people surveyed use their smartphone to make online purchases or to obtain information about retailers, and 75% of people consider a mobile-optimized website important.

Source: Unbounce Page Speed Report


Responsive Design

Nowadays, responsive pages are a matter of course, regardless of whether you run a self-programmed website or work with software providers such as WordPress or Shopify.

Our tip: Check the traffic on your website in relation to the devices used – and optimize accordingly. For example, if 80% of my traffic comes from mobile devices, the website should be designed to handle that.
Maybe the integration of AMP pages will help to further improve loading times on mobile devices?
Or – in the case of stationary trade – automatic route descriptions to the next shop based on the user’s location?

Only 15,000 and thus 5.4 percent of all German websites load in less than a second. ThinkwithGoogle

Essentially, what is needed is clear navigation in addition to an attractive design – mobile as well as for the desktop view. Google recommends a maximum loading time of five seconds, but ideally it should be less than 3 seconds.

For an online shop, search fields and filter options are decisive for the product search, and availability information (online as well as in stationary shops) is also requested by customers.

First and foremost, therefore, is the ease of use of the shop system or website – and, with an omni-channel approach, the combination of digital and stationary business.

This symbiosis can, for example, take the form of Click & Collect systems, as well as an indication of availability in the stationary business.


The be-all and end-all: The provision of information and a personalized service

However, the increasing customer demands are not only limited to the usability of the website, this is rather the basis. Nowadays the consumer usually knows exactly what they want and what becomes particularly relevant is the supply of information.

Live tracking of shipped packages and quickly locatable, transparent information on shipping, payment and return options are just as much a part of this as personalized and individualized approaches and marketing offers.

The digital transformation opens up new possibilities – and these are increasingly demanded by consumers. Both online and offline, the customer must be addressed on a personal and emotional level from the very first moment. This can be achieved by using omni-channel concepts that reach the user on each channel.

But it is also worth taking a step back and examining the basics – it is precisely here that small changes can have a positive effect on sales and customer satisfaction.

Do you need help with your customer loyalty programs or would you like an audit of previously undiscovered potential?
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