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PHOTO: Tiko

Let's start with a confession: Amazon Prime Now has made me an impatient customer. Two years ago, I was perfectly content to wait a couple of days for a purchase. I felt the same way about waiting for a response to the email I sent a company about that pair of shoes I wanted to buy, or on a refund request.

But now that I can order an item on my phone and get it delivered within hours, I no longer have the patience for brands that can’t get back to me with an immediacy that is borderline unfair. Yet that’s the “NOW” era we live in — and it’s taking over customer behavior.

The 'NOW' Customer

So who is this NOW customer? It’s someone who is always on, always online expecting rapid resolutions and engaged interactions from their brands at all times and across every touchpoint. And they are growing in numbers: according to Zendesk research, 65% of consumers expect customer service to be faster now than it was 5 years ago. 

If a brand falls short of meeting the NOW customer on their terms, they leave their customers (or would-be customers) feeling neglected, something few businesses can afford. Forrester Research reports that 53% of US adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question. 

One critical element to consider when planning how to meet the needs of the NOW Customer: a brand is not competing against those brands selling similar products — they are actually competing against every experience the NOW Customer has. While that may not seem fair, it’s the way consumers are wired now. If a business neglects the NOW Customer, that customer will go elsewhere.

Related Article: Humanizing Automation in CX: A Delicate But Essential Balance

Companies Don’t Know Where They Stand With the NOW Customer

Many businesses rely on CSAT scores to inform their customer service approach, thinking that their 4.5 out of 5.0 CSAT scores demonstrate a satisfied customer base. That is far from the complete picture. Recent survey data shows that only 20% to 30% of customer interactions are captured in a CSAT — and that doesn’t account at all for would-be customers who abandon the buying process. These hidden would-be customers can do a massive amount of damage. 

The Negative Networker is one of the toughest to detect once the moment passes. They may never leave a review on a website but will definitely be telling friends and family about their experience with a brand. If this customer has suffered customer service neglect, Temkin Research says only 27% will remain silent about it. The American Express Customer Service Barometer said they may tell up to 15 people about their negative experience — and a brand may never hear about it directly. 

On the flip side, the Hidden Superfan actually loves the brand, but is often not loved back. This customer may not be a vocal reviewer or take to social media to share their love, but they may be a quiet customer who has all the makings of a hidden superfan. Failure to recognize and engage this customer, and make the most of their brand fandom, may cause a brand to risk losing the major upside they can bring. 

Related Article: Voice of the Customer Strategies: Effectively Turning Feedback Into Action

How to Win Over the NOW Customer

Rapid responses, person-to-person relevance, and resonance at scale deliver on the promise of a best-in-class NOW experience that can eradicate customer neglect. In the process, you empower customer service agents to uncover new opportunities for accelerating the first sale, cross-selling, upselling and re-engaging consumers at every touch point.

  • Get rid of customer service business hours as a barrier to engaging with customers when they want to shop. Shopify’s 2019 State of Commerce report shows that 5 p.m. to midnight EDT — “off-hours” for many companies — are the most popular times for online browsing. Brands must capitalize on these all-important hours to accommodate both pre- and post-sale requests and inquiries. 
  • Be on every channel that your customers use. That means chat, social and text, not just phone and email. The NOW customer is always on and looking to engage, courtesy of chat, messaging, email and social media, and expects the same from its favored brands. Long wait times from limited business-hour phone lines don’t fly with the NOW customer.
  • Engagement matters. According to Rosetta Consulting research, customers who are engaged by a brand make purchases 90% more often and spend 60% more per transaction than those customers who are not engaged. First response time is meaningless if the customer doesn’t actually get their issue resolved. Deflection is not the answer. Far too many chatbots create this frustration because they have limited capacity to help. And rapid responses that tell the NOW customer you’ll get back to them in 24 hours won't cut it.

The risk of neglecting customers cannot be ignored. According to data from New Voice Media, US companies lose more than $75 billion annually due to poor customer service. Ultimately, customers are the ones who decide whether or not a brand delivers exceptional, mediocre, or poor CX. Start now to ensure your NOW customers are getting the treatment they want and deserve.