Who is the NOW Customer?

A closer look at the consumers who seek speed, results, and an emotional connection from the brands they frequent. (Spoiler alert: They’re everywhere!)

Sit back, close your eyes: I want you to think back to a time when things took just a little bit longer.  When holiday shopping required at least five hectic trips to the mall. When connecting with a friend depended on how many stamps you had. When having “instant access” to a new song required the ability to hit “record” on your AM/FM/cassette player at the exact. right. time.

Up until now, consumers were expected to shape their behaviors around constraints like business hours, movie times, cell phone minutes, and, yes, a radio station’s 90-minute Rock Block.

Today, the tables have turned: Companies are now beholden to the expectations of the NOW Customer… the customer who is always “on” and doesn’t know the meaning of “try again later.”  The NOW Customer is the direct result of the explosion of on-demand technology and the impossible standards set by companies like Amazon and Netflix.

This IS your grandma’s CX: The NOW Customer isn’t about age

It’s easy to assume that the NOW Customer is just another “always on” Millennial or Gen-Z-er.  Are the digitally-native generations more conditioned to speed and instant gratification?  Of course. However, we cannot ignore that the entire world’s population is now living in an “on-demand” era… one that affects every person, regardless of age:

  • Currently, 81% of Americans own a smartphone (up from 35% in 2011). In just two years, Amazon Prime membership has grown 20% to 150 million users. Instant communication and instant gratification are becoming the norm for almost every person… and there’s no way they’re going back to the way it was.

Bottom line? You can’t slap a label on the NOW Customer or dismiss them because your product isn’t for “young people.” In fact, the NOW Customer is… most customers.

They can’t help it, but… the NOW Customer is comparing your business’s CX to the best experiences they’ve ever had

World-class companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify are setting the tone for every other customer experience your customer is having. They’ve got a taste of the Prime Now good stuff and they can’t turn back.

In a recent Simplr CX survey, 61% of consumers said that their customer service expectations are based on the best experiences they’ve ever had.

Be warned: NOW Customers may scoff at a slower-than-Starbucks coffee shop or keel over at the mere mention of “5-8 business days.” With customer experience being the battle for business these days, it’s critical to make sure your CX is on par with the big dogs, not just industry players. Otherwise, you risk them jumping over to a new site, or worse, telling their friends that you’re not worth the time.

“Most companies must realize that they are no longer competing against the guy down the street or the brand that sells similar products. Instead, they’re competing with every other experience a customer has. This presents an opportunity for forward-thinking brands to create positive experiences that customers want to talk about to others. It also suggests that CX professionals should be monitoring the experience at a wide variety of companies and industries for inspiration.” – Dan Gingiss

The NOW Customer likes to be “met in the moment”

The NOW Customer operates on their own time and on their own turf. If a company wants to “win” a NOW Customer, it must meet them where they are.

According to Salesforce, the average customer uses a whopping 10 different channels to communicate with companies, and expects a consistent experience across all of them. Mix that with the fact that prime browsing hours are 5pm-midnight EDT, you’ve got to deliver in all spots, at all hours.

The NOW Customer wants to be engaged (quickly!)

It’s no surprise that the NOW Customer expects speed in every interaction they have online. According to Zendesk, 65% of consumers expect customer service to be faster now than it was five years ago. In a recent Simplr mystery shop report, eCommerce brands that had had the highest experience score answered emails in less than 15 minutes and chats under 30 seconds.

Good vibes only: There’s more to the NOW Customer than speed

Yes, Amazon has created higher-than-high expectations when it comes to shipping speed and customer service response times. The instant gratification associated with rapid-fire results attracts the NOW Customer (and repels them when those expectations aren’t met).

But there’s more to the story than speed:

  1. The NOW Customer trusts their inner circle more than advertisers. And with constant, instant access to their networks, they can make buying decisions (or decisions to avoid a brand) quicker than ever. In fact, 83% of customers no longer trust brands or advertising. More than likely, the NOW Customer is turning to their highly-accessible and trusted network for all of their buying decisions.
  2. The NOW Customer  may be hasty, but they aren’t heartless. The Now Customer actively seeks out businesses and experiences that are overwhelmingly positive, and will run away from anything negative.
  3. The NOW Customer is actually quite emotional and tuned-in to brands that appeal to their own values. They are much more likely to remember an experience that made them feel something.
    Customers who feel an emotional connection with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend that brand 26% more than the average.

Make no mistake, NOW Customer won’t be satisfied by speed alone. Make them feel great, and you’ve got a customer for life.

It’s time to get on board with the NOW Customer

At their core, NOW Customers are fiercely loyal. So while businesses may be turned off by the NOW Customer’s impossible expectations, the value they bring to a business once they’ve fallen in love is indisputable (and the cost of them turning on you is even greater):

  • It is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one
  • After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again.

Companies that have redefined their online CX strategy to meet the NOW Customer are more likely to survive the uncertainty and competition of years to come. 

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