Tips for Managing Customer Expectations

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MANAGING customer ExpectationsHow do you know what your customers expect from you? Do you just assume that what you are doing is meeting their expectations? Well if you do, your organization could be in trouble. Here are some tips for managing customer expectations.

For instance, you may think your customers are happy with a response time of 24 hours, while they really are expecting 12 hours. And if that is what they expect, you must make sure your systems and procedures can make that happen on a regular basis. Your service representatives might need to have accessibility by cell phone, or call in every hour, for instance.

Finding out what your customers expect and then exceeding those expectations is the key to continued business success. Here are some ideas from other firms. See if any of these ideas will work for you.

Use the personal touch: A small computer networking and software development firm likes to use the personal touch. They feel that no one wants to sit down and take the time to fill out a survey anymore. So they take their clients out to lunch and dinner or to play a round of golf and work one-on-one with them to uncover their expectations and their content with the company’s service.

Ask questions like, “Is there anything we can do to make things better for you?” and to find out exactly what they expect in the way of response time, service and quality.

Then they try to manage their customers’ expectations up front. For instance, in the area of who gets service in what order, they tell them that they work on the priority system–who has the biggest fire — rather than first in, first out. Then their customers won’t expect their minor emergency to be first on the list if another client has his entire network down.

To learn your customer’s expectations, listen for the “I wish…” statements. “I wish you were open on Saturday.” “I wish I could do this online.” All of these statements will tell you what your customers are expecting so that you can meet and exceed those expectations.

Ask. Some real estate development company makes sure that they can meet their customer’s expectations by interviewing them up front. They try to weed out those customers who have unrealistic expectations that they could never meet. The owner of the company may emphasize that they are big on “under promising and over delivering.” They make it a point to tell customers up front what some of the problems might be with the subcontractors or vendors and other things that can go wrong with a product, service or project.

They know that many customers already have negative expectations and strive to manage their expectations by telling them exactly what to expect and then to over perform to those expectations.

Listen. A storage and transfer company stresses the importance of “listening, listening, listening.” “Let your customer have the floor,” the sales rep emphasizes, ” and they will give you all the information you need to meet and exceed their expectations”.

She also says that it is very important for her to empathize with her customers as moving is a very personal thing. She always tries to find out which of the customer’s possessions are particularly valuable to them, even if it is only sentimental value. That way she can meet their expectations for the handling of them.

Then, follow up after the service or product is delivered to see if you met and hopefully exceeded their expectations. So what are you doing to learn and meet your customers’ expectations?

Trevina Broussard is a Talent Solutions Consultant, Speaker, and Trainer. To have her work with your group, call 713-771-4402

trevina broussard head shotAbout Trevina Broussard

I share powerful Customer Service tips and insights for front line managers and employees on how to deliver customer service to keep your customer coming back. The name of the game is customer loyalty and it’s not just about satisfaction. It’s about a willingness to be a repeat buyer, willingness to recommend you to others, and resistance to switching to a competitor. Fortunately, I learned this lesson through my 15-year corporate career. Poor service is an all-too-frequent experience for us all. I provide a framework for implementing ongoing processes that can build customer loyalty.

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