18 November 2009

Managing Expectations – master this and your business will never look back.

If you want to build a hugely successful business, one that has customers rushing in the door, regardless of what industry you’re in, you absolutely, positively have to learn the power of managing expectations.

In the modern business climate customers have become incredibly demanding. I know I certainly have and the reason is that we all have a lot more choice when it comes to where we will spend our hard earned cash. If a business can’t meet my expectations I’ll gladly go elsewhere. Customers have total power and they are most certainly not afraid to use it.

The sad part is that very few businesses are actually able to meet, or ideally exceed, customer expectations. In the past this has been OK, because the customers lower their expectations (dare I mention Telstra, Banks, Airlines), but with the advent of the internet and the resulting increased competition, this flaccid strategy won’t work anymore.

Customers have expectations at every level of their interaction with a business. Some people call these interactions touch points or love points and they may be face to face, over the phone, online or simply via a product that is delivered in the mail. To meet and ideally exceed these expectations we need to know what our customers actually do expect from us and that means we need to communicate with them.

One of the biggest reasons people stop using a particular business is because that business over promises and under delivers. Simple as that.

10 simple ways get more customers than you can ever imagine simply by managing expectations.

1. Talk to your customers and clarify what they expect from you, what are their main issues and what can you possibly do better.

2. Overestimate how long it will take to deliver and then deliver early (for example tell them it will be ready Friday, knowing full well it will be ready on Wednesday).

3. Be proactive – don’t wait for your customers to contact you, always be one step ahead.

4. Don’t be bullied into over promising by demanding customers – it always tends to backfire on you.

5. If you say you will do something, make sure you do it.

6. Review every aspect of your business to determine what things you could to do to exceed your customer’s expectations or even better, get an external person to do the review. A fresh pair of eyes will see what you can’t.

7. Be clear on the information you’re giving your customers. Is it factual and is it accurate?

8. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Customers hate it when they don’t know what is going on and can you blame them?

9. If there is a problem, get to the customer as soon as you can.

10. Go the extra mile. Often the littlest of extra service can totally exceed a customer’s expectation and therefore their experience.

How do we apply this to meeting the expectations of our customers when it comes to doing business online? Well it’s simple – apply the exact same principles. Be clear in your online communication, respond quickly, don’t leave your customers “waiting” in a cyber que and get feedback from them wherever possible.

Have an external company review your site for customer expectation management. Have your business mystery shopped – online, face-to-face, over the phone, it doesn’t matter. Use SMS to update clients or pass on short, but informative messages where possible. This is all sending a very clear message that you’re making an effort to meet and exceed your customer’s expectations and they will appreciate it.

Master this and you will never, ever struggle in business because the bush telegraph will keep as many customers coming your way as you want.

One thought on “Managing Expectations – master this and your business will never look back.”

  1. Richard Olearczyk says:

    Good clear sound advice, too many times have either the client or the supplier (or both) suffered at the hands of the salesman over-selling and mis-managing expectations. From personal experience, one of my most successful business relationships came from telling a client I could NOT deliver what they required in the time-scale and pointed them at a competitor who could. A bit extreme I will admit, but because of the honesty they came back to me for advice, and we subsequently worked together for ten years.

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