Having written a book on customer service (101 Ways to Really Satisfy Your Customers), I have spent a lot of time pondering the complex relationship between customers and businesses. I was attempting to simplify the key components required to build these relationships to explain how to create solid connection with customers. After all, we all know and accept that the key to building a successful business is to keep those customers coming back.
The end result was surprisingly simple. I see three clear requirements to building exceptional relationships with customers, regardless of the business we are in:
1. Know what our customers expectations are.
2. Without failure, meet these expectations.
3. Where possible exceed these expectations any way possible.
The surprising fact for me is that virtually every relationship could be
guided to success by following the same guidelines and the real key is the
the first requirement – knowing what our customers expectations are. If we don’t
know what people expect from us how can we possibly give it to them?
We can guess, we can anticipate, but often these are simply stabs in the
dark that we sometimes get wrong and sometimes we get right.
In recent years I have become a big believer in taking the time to really
clarify expectations from anyone who I have a relationship. In most
instances, I have the opportunity to also clarify my expectations (after all
these are relationships). I believe that a major cause of relationship
breakdowns is a lack clarity regarding what the other person expects from
the relationship or interaction.
As an example, when I decide to run with a new supplier, I sit down with
them, spell out what I expect from them in terms of quality control,
adhering to time frames, response time to requests for quote and other
related issues. At the same time I clearly point out what we will do from
our end in terms of payment terms, placing the order, reaching sales
quota’s etc. Then I reiterate what we have agreed upon in an email – so
there is no room for error. From here, all we have to do is to meet each
others expectations and the relationship will be fine. And even if there is
the odd hiccup, as long we both communicate openly and it is an
exception rather than the normal, no harm is done.
WHAT CAN I DO TODAY?
Do you define your expectations in relationships? Do you know what your
expectations actually are? From today, take the time to clarify what you
expect in relationships and what you will give in return. This applies to all
relationships in your life.