Managing Customer Expectations to improve Customer Loyalty
Customer expectations? What’s the big fuss? A customer comes in, makes a purchase, goes away again, right? No big deal? We all know that it’s more than ‘no big deal’. A customer’s expectations are what we, as responsible companies, strive to meet.
What do you mean with ‘customer expectations’?
In a previous article, we discussed how customers want to be reassured that they’ve made the right choice. They want the product or service they bought from a company to meet their expectations. They don’t want to feel like they’ve lost time, been tricked, or – worse of all – wasted their money. A customer who leaves feeling used is never coming back, and they will spread the word. People are far more likely to share negative feedback than they are to share compliments.
Promising someone the stars and only coming back with a faintly glowing rock, is not the best way to get return customers. If you promise 100%, then you have to deliver 110%; that’s just the way customer service works. People want to feel special – they want their decision to use your company validated – and as a result, managing customer expectations is one of the key skill-sets required in the customer service game.
Another thing to remember is that not everyone has the same expectations. Or the same interpretation of what we, as companies, think are customer expectations.
Defining the Expectations Clearly
Last week, we talked about why knowing how to have a good conversation can empower the frontline team and drive the bottom line. It’s great to carry a good conversation; part of that is to have the same conversation. It’s not so great if the customer has a different understanding of the words that are coming from your frontline.
If a sales rep is talking about oranges and the customer is hearing apples, there’s going to be some issues!
Similarly, companies can be overzealous when it comes to promising quality. When was the last time we saw an infomercial at 3am that promised us smooth abs and great triceps in six weeks? Think back to the last advertisement you watched for a car, with the fine print warning that the clip was shot in optimal conditions and ‘real results may vary’. It’s difficult to manage customer expectations and boast the quality of your service or product.
Again, if we promise 100% then customer expectation is at least 100%. Any good customer service rep will do their best to make sure they’re giving 120%.
A Note about 100% Satisfaction
Everyone has different opinions, so how do we make sure we’re meeting customer expectations? Legally speaking, the promise of 100% satisfaction is all about the judgement of a ‘reasonable person’ [Source]. In this way, companies can protect themselves from irrational demands and unreasonable expectations.
How far do we go?
This is a good question. The answer varies depending on the practicality of the request. A customer coming into a green grocer to buy apples when there are none, is easier to please than a customer who walks into a car show demanding to buy t-shirts. Is there a practical way to meet their expectations? Then use common sense and strive to meet them! Unreasonable customer expectations? Do your best, but remember that there’s just no pleasing some people no matter how hard you try. Some people who will never be satisfied. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it our best shot though.
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