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Customers not only don’t need businesses like they used to; they also aren’t afraid to tell you about it. That is why traditional customer models simply do not work anymore. As a full-service digital marketing company and web developer, we have seen the change in the marketplace and know that understanding the truth about today’s customers is paramount for businesses that wish to be successful in a digital world.

People can find information themselves online if they need to. The question is, will they bother using your business again of they need to find the information elsewhere and you aren’t actively looking to engage and help them?

Not only do people now expect multiple avenues for contacting a business when assistance is needed to meet their preference, but the majority of people expect that you should know who they are since they are a customer. Verifying a full name, account number, billing address, etc. is important in some cases when it comes to general account security, but at the same time, not every query is going to involve sensitive data.

People expect good customer service at a minimum. For those businesses that provide good to great customer service, the rewards can be positive feedback and mentions on social media as well as a higher customer satisfaction rating and retention rate. On the flip side, mediocre customer service now quickly leads to negative feedback and mentions as customers vent their frustrations and anger in their preferred social forum such as Twitter or Facebook.

The simple truth is that in most cases today’s customers need businesses less than businesses need the customers.

It is a shift that has occurred with the increase in connectivity and information availability that our technological advances have brought, and a shift that needs to be factored into all aspects of the business from sales and marketing to customer service and care. Like most changes in business, an opportunity is available for those who take the lead in providing customers what they want to expand their market share while those who fail to adapt risk losing some of theirs.

Customers have higher expectations of the people and organizations they do business with today. Here are four tips that will lead to a better understanding of where customers are coming from:

Customers are more knowledgeable today:

Technology has made them more knowledgeable about what they’re buying and how their decisions relate to their organization needs. Customers are more self-confident and they know how to make use of their knowledge.

Customers are more analytical:

Their buying decisions are more closely linked with key business strategies. They base purchasing decisions on the strengths of the salesperson’s solutions. They expect service that goes beyond on-time deliveries and good communication. Effective customer service today must be equated to knowledge and expertise. Service now means becoming a valuable resource for the customer. If they don’t receive this level of service, they go elsewhere.

Customers expect salespeople to be a valuable resource for them:

Being viewed as a valuable resource produces long-term confidence. Value comes from making a continuing contribution to customer success. The major challenge for salespeople today is to have customers and prospects wanting to do business with them because their knowledge is valued.

Customers look beyond immediate results:

Long-term thinking is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Getting yourself to look down the road is a key to future success. Without such concern, there’s often a failure to recognize that the marketplace is changing, and business disappears as a result.

In the cases where you do need to use redirects, make sure you only use one redirect for a page. You never want a browser to have to do the work of redirecting a visitor from one page to another that redirects it to a third.

The bottom line is that it is very important to understand the truth about today’s customers; they simply don’t need us as much as we might hope. In an online marketplace where the competition is just a click away and problems can be easily amplified over social channels, focusing on customer needs and providing proactive solutions has never been so important for businesses that not only want to survive but also hope to thrive and grow.