By Roy Barnes, Bob Kelleher

Customers. One day, they’re totally satisfied with your product line and customer service. The next? They’re ditching you for someone new. Their expectations change, seemingly every day! Unless your goal is to kill customer experience, you need to keep up with these changing — or, more precisely, rising — expectations. So what do customers expect? Here are just a few examples of customer expectations — at least, for now.

  • Speed: Most customers don’t want to take a ton of time deciding what to buy. They check with their friends and followers on social media and maybe do research on a few review websites to make their decision. And once their decision is made, they want to be able to pull the trigger . . . quickly. Don’t introduce any impediments in your buying experience!

  • Authenticity: Customers want no games, no gimmicks, and no fine print. They want straight talk — no bait and switch. That means all your touchpoints (website, stores, and so on) need to be using the same real-time information. Oh — and don’t configure your default settings to cheat the consumer. And don’t lie to them, because they’ll find out.

  • Care: If customers merely want a transaction, they’ll buy online. For anything else, they probably prefer to be treated like human beings. Like you, consumers have feelings, emotions, and dreams. Don’t turn them into a persona or a segment. Don’t target or quantify them.

  • Knowledge: If someone’s been a customer of yours for years, you should know that. You should know what she’s bought from you and remember it when she calls in with a question or for service. Her loyalty to you is worth at least some acknowledgement. Do your customers matter to you? If so, know them and show them.

  • Availability: Customers will contact you — whether via text, phone, mail, email, tweet, Facebook message, or in person — when it’s convenient for them, not for you. They don’t care about your operating hours. They expect you to be always on and listening. Don’t expect to limit your hours of availability from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when your customers work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.!

  • Ease of use: People don’t like to follow directions. If you want customers to do something, make the process so easy, so obvious, so intuitively clear that they will be able to follow the path you’ve laid out as easily as water finds the valley floor. Don’t expect consumers to think!

  • Immediacy: Customers want it now, unless they want it later, in which case they want it at a specific time, in a specific location, with a call to verify exactly when so they don’t forget.

  • Reception: Shhhh. Stop talking. Be quiet and listen. Then do something with what your customers tell you. If you must ask questions, listen to their response. And don’t ask too many questions all at once. Customers don’t like being interrogated. Finally, be clear about what you’re going to do with the information you collect. Your customers’ default position is that you’ll misuse their information. Convince them otherwise.

  • One-stop shopping: Don’t shuffle customers around from department to department. They don’t care about your organizational structure, your politics, or who has the real clout in the company. They care about getting their questions answered and their concerns addressed — preferably by the first person they talk to, not the fifth.

  • Good design: Customers appreciate beautiful design, even if they never say so. Nobody wants to buy something that doesn’t work well.

  • Problem solving: If something does go wrong, customers need it fixed, fixed properly, and fixed now.