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Setting Customer Expectations (Without Totally Blowing It)

setting customer expectations, jumping higherYou control your own destiny. In most cases, you have the ability to set expectations with your customers and then meet (or hopefully exceed) those expectations.

Unfortunately all too often, businesses make promises only to drop the ball and totally blow it with their customers.

Setting realistic expectations with customers and then actually following through on those expectations are two totally different things. 

I’m not talking about shooting for the moon and settling for the stars kind of stuff—I’m talking about telling a customer you’re going to give them a follow up call on a certain day, or saying you’re going to do something. And then you don’t.

Read More > 3 surefire ways to manage customer expectations

Anytime I get an automated call tree, I immediately assume I’m going to be on hold for a while. I set my expectations just about as low based on my previous experiences.

On one particular call, I heard an automated prompt for my estimated hold time. My ears immediately perked up. I was mentally prepared to wait 10 minutes or longer. The prompt said two minutes. I shifted my expectations. I started to get excited. I could see the light at the end of the annoying calling tree tunnel.

Three minutes went by. Then four. Then seven. I rep finally picked up 10 minutes later. Instead of improving my customer experience by setting expectations around my estimated hold time, the system actually made matters worse.

But it’s not just about automated call trees, it’s about setting and managing expectations with each and every touch point.

Read More > How to build a better customer loyalty program for your local market

You can’t always control the expectations your customers are already bring to the table. But you can control the expectations you set.

If you tell your customers you’re going to do something, you need to do it

It doesn’t matter how big or how small the task—once you offer it up, you’re officially on the hook. You’ve set the expectation. It’s up to you to follow through.

Just stop and think about your own experiences as a consumer. How many times have you had a business tell you they were going to do something and then totally drop the ball?

Managing expectations requires a process

Whether you use a Post-it note, smartphone, or full blown customer relationship management (CRM) system, make sure you keep track of any and all outstanding action items and most importantly—their due dates.

Read More > 5 affordable CRM solutions for small businesses

And if something comes up and you can’t hit the mark, let your customers know as soon as possible.

Even a “We’re still waiting on XYZ. As soon as it gets here, we’ll give you a call. We just didn’t want you think we’ve forgotten about you” is better than nothing at all. There’s always a chance they’ll still be frustrated, but at least you’re keeping them in the loop—and managing their expectations.

The last thing you want to do is promise something to you customers and under deliver.


[Image: Flickr user David Amsler]

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