Is your business having a hard time with a customer whose expectations simply aren’t attainable? Maybe they’ve become so difficult to deal with that your business is left wondering what to do next, or how to please them. Managing customer expectations is the single most important aspect of starting off a new customer relationship. It’s something that must be done from the outset and if not done immediately, the consequences are extremely difficult to overcome. In fact, an argument can easily be made that managing customer expectations is the single most important factor of sales success. It all amounts to defining your service criteria and it’s not as difficult as it might seem.
Understanding Customer Expectations
As a consumer, you expect a certain level of service, but you might not necessarily expect the same service everywhere you go. When you do go to a new store, have you ever noticed how the best sales people take the time to explain what their store can, and can not do? Most of the time, you understand and decide to work with what they can provide, and in some cases, you find out their service abilities are better than you expected.
However, how would you feel as a customer if they didn’t explain everything, and left it up to you to assume what their service capabilities were? Obviously, you’d be upset when they didn’t do what you expected. The best sales and customer service people are patient, and explain their service capabilities first, before moving forward. In fact, an argument can easily be made that sales success simply can't happen if you've not properly managed your customer's expectations.
When it comes to managing customer expectations, it’s really about getting it right the first time. When your business meets with a new customers, it’s absolutely imperative to establish some criteria that will be used to measure and determine your company’s ability to service their account. Expectations are different from one customer to the next, and if you don't set the stage properly, you could be facing an uphill battle to reach your customer’s service requirements.
2. Don’t Leave Service Competencies to Assumptions
When it comes to managing customer expectations, it’s really a “give-and-take” process, and much of that success has to do with negotiation. While there are exceptions, most customers are reasonable, and if your company’s service capabilities are well defined among your sales and customer service personnel, then they will have an easier time explaining it to your customers.
Taking the time to explain what your business is capable of, it might just uncover potential future business, and raise the bar on service. However, if you leave it to the assumptions of the customer, then your business will never meet the customer's expectations and the relationship will suffer as a result.
3. Be Ready to Negotiate
Managing expectations is the one area a number of businesses simply fail to master. This is one part of customer management that should never be left to interpretation or assumptions. As a consumer, you know how it feels to be let down. However, was this because they didn’t do what they said they would, or because they didn’t properly explain what they could do?
More often than not, customers get upset when they are let down by surprises. If you take the time to discuss what your company does well, it will establish the basis for future business and lead to a much happier customer.
Managing customer expectations involves eliminating customer assumptions. Take the time to explain your company's service capabilities and never leave the customer wondering what your company can, or can not deliver upon.
When customers assume what your service capabilities are, they'll forever be setup for disappointment. However, taking the time to explain your company’s approach, and what they can expect as a client, will set the stage for growing that relationship over time.
Again, customers have predetermined expectations based on how they've been serviced in the past. It is your job to define what your company can and cannot do for them. Once you do, you'll have a free exchange of ideas and approaches to servicing your customer.