The essential principles of customer service are timeless, but consumer expectations are not. Customers always want a friendly, efficient, and reliable service. And the development of new technology raises expectations..

Gartner defines customer experience as one of the “top three areas of marketing investment.” Making strides to meet consumer preferences is invaluable for businesses of all sizes and industries.

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to become frustrated. Technology constantly changes consumer behavior, preferences, and action. However, if consumer-focused companies want to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, they need to utilize the tremendous advantages provided by digital technology.

The same digital trends and technologies that shift consumer expectations also create efficient solutions. Businesses are thus able to evolve alongside the consumer.

Here are four of today’s top consumer preferences, and the technologies to use in order to meet them.

Instantaneous Response

Due to the mass adoption of smartphones and mobile search, today’s consumers expect immediate answers and instant web access. Online search, research, and shopping are all accessible to consumers with just a few taps on a screen.

Consumers expect the same of customer service. Consumer research reports estimate customers will wait up to four hours for a response to their online inquiry. However, brands don’t answer almost 90% of these inquiries. On the brand’s behalf, lack of response can become detrimental to sales conversions, revenue, and brand sustainability.

Chatbots, or artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bots designed to engage in conversation with human users over the internet, are a vital part of customer service teams for this reason. There are a number of platforms and softwares that businesses can use to build their own chatbot. There are many ways to use Chatbots for business.

Facebook’s Messenger app has one of the most popular and recognized. As Ernest Cu, CEO from Globe Telecom, who utilizes Facebook’s chatbot feature testifies, “Putting customers first has always been our primary value. With Messenger, we can reach out to our customers at the heart of their digital lifestyle.”

Personalized Messaging

The demand for personalization is at the forefront of the evolution of consumer preferences. Consumers today want to feel less like anonymous buyers. They want brands to identify their specific wants and needs. Customers also want companies to customize their experience with those qualities in mind.

As Jon Siegal, Vice President of Global Loyalty Sales at Cheetah Digital told Loyalty360, “Brands must personalize or perish because relevance is such an important part of the loyalty equation. Personalization is not a loyalty program ‘nice to have.’ It’s a ‘must have.’”

With emerging technologies like machine learning now available, this is much simpler. By gathering information like engagement, click-through rates, search patterns, purchase history, past queries, or help tickets, machine learning models can predict customers’ wants and needs, sometimes before they even know themselves. Use personalization in email campaigns, loyalty programs, a customized home page, and even in brick-and-mortar sales.

One of the most successful companies using personalization is Netflix. The streaming company harvests information from its 182.8 million subscriber profiles, then feeds the data into its personalization endeavors. Netflix deems user behavior to be its most important metric.

It’s not only the suggested titles that change either: the personalization can alter how Netflix looks in terms of design. A user receives different recommendations depending on when they log in.

Secure Customer Data

Research shows 79% of today’s consumers worry about data security and privacy issues. Multiple surveys find it to be the biggest cause for concern for consumers, especially as the number and severity of data breaches increases.

In 2019 alone, there were a total of 5,183 data breaches for a total of 7.9 billion exposed records. Marriott, Facebook, Capital One, and even popular mobile app Words With Friends fell victim to unsecured databases. With an influx of major data breaches in recent news, consumers are hyper-alert about to whom they share personal information.

Customers lose trust in an organization by even potential risk of a breach. This hinders brand loyalty, reputation, revenue, and overall business performance. In order to combat this risk, businesses must safeguard consumer data with the utmost security.

Prevention must start from internal policies, practices, and implementation. Many cybersecurity mistakes stem from human error. Update your devices and infrastructure with the proper cyber safety precautions. This may include installing multi-factor authentication, limiting data access, and implementing firewalls.

Mobile Shopping Capabilities

Mobile devices are integral to the day-to-day activities of today’s consumers, especially when it comes to online shopping. Consumers can shop from their mobile devices. They can purchase items from an internet browser, mobile application, or even a social media feed.

These mobile capabilities, often referred to as m-commerce, present a major opportunity for today’s brands. It’s anticipated that by 2021, 73% of ecommerce sales will occur on a mobile device.

There are many ways mobile shopping capabilities canoccur. The foundation of this strategy is a site’s mobile responsiveness. A site that doesn’t adapt to a mobile format forces consumers to zoom in and out of a product image. They may also struggle to locate a navigation bar. It can be extremely frustrating to user experience.

However, when a website is responsive, the layout and content adapts based on the size of screen they’re presented on. If you don’t mobile optimize your site, you’ll miss out on many sales opportunities.

Enter your site’s URL into Google Search Console’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if it’s responsive to mobile devices. Not only will this demonstrate what the site looks like on a mobile device, but Google will also make recommendations to improve mobile design.

Conclusion

As consumer expectations continue to evolve over time, it’s vital businesses stay up to date with the expectations and preferences of consumers. Businesses must consider technology’s role in driving and delivering these expectations. Prioritize these when constructing your customer-facing activities.