The current business environment is highly competitive. In a globalized marketplace it is becoming even more important to meet and exceed customer expectations. However, this is easier said than done. Customers today are spoilt for choice and if you don’t know their expectations they will quickly turn to the competition.
As such you have to enhance customer satisfaction whether you are running an online business or a brick and mortar enterprise. Most businesses however get it wrong and it is no wonder there many unsatisfied customers in every industry.
So, the question is how do you avoid the same pitfall? At the back of your mind remember all communication that goes out of your business and in reviews sets the mood of expectations and if you fall short you may lose a potential customer.
To manage and meet customer expectations you must first know what their experiences at your business should be. To do this you have to form a genuine platform of interactions where the speeds and feeds you promise your customers can be met. The main objective is not only to satisfy your customers but provide clarity in your enterprise.
Learning Customer Expectations
As a business owner you have to know what your customers’ expectations are before you embark on managing the same. Different variables in your business operations will help you form a clear understanding on the strategy to use. To understand what your customers expect consider the following:
- Past experiences with the same customer
- Your communication which forms the main basis of a customer’s expectations.
- Their experience with competitors in your niche
- Individual needs
All these factors come together to shape the nature of customer expectations. These should be your building blocks when managing customer expectations. Before implementing your customer expectations strategy consider these other factors:
- Customers expect service-basis
- Businesses must be dependable in providing the service promised and exceed expectations of the customer.
- Relationships matter to customers and your business should invest in ongoing relationships.
- Businesses should avoid overpromising
Pitfalls top Avoid when Managing Customer Expectations
With this overview of customer expectations it is now easier to identify the pitfalls that both big and small brands make resulting in loss of business. Below are some of the things you should never do as you try managing your customers’ expectations:
A good business only communicates information that is correct and in an honest manner. In the contemporary business environment marketers are finding themselves in a fix as they come under more spotlight from enlightened consumers. A study by Tolero Solutions a business solutions provider shows that 53% of shoppers complain about miscommunication as being the biggest hindrance to a good customer experience. The problem could be due to the multiple channels through which a business sends out information including print, social media, FAQs and website pages. If the information in any of these platforms is wrong you are not meeting customer expectations fully.
2. Lack of Immediate Follow-up
This is what most businesses consider a quiet mistake which they feel might not cost much. However, you have to appreciate the business environment you are operating in; there is more flow of information and when a customer does not get immediate feedback they will turn to the competition as their expectations have not been met. A customer leaves the follow-up to you because they are lost for choice and if you don’t take up the responsibility they will not return. To meet your customer’s expectations make sure you make prompt follow-up.
3. Lack of Consistency
A returning customer already has a preconceived idea about the service level they expect. Unfortunately most businesses don’t realize the importance of nurturing customer loyalty and they assume such clients are desperate for their superior services and products. Lack of predictability and consistency is a pitfall every suave business owner must avoid. The chance to create loyalty must never be overlooked as a vital part of meeting customer expectations.
4. Failure to Learn from Past Experiences
Your business has invested in different communication channels where customer can give feedback. If a customer is not satisfied they will instantly share this and as a business owner it is imperative to instantly get back to the customer and promise to improve your standards. Standard improvement is an integral part of meeting customer expectations in future. If for instance a customer comes back and finds the same sub-standard service you risk losing them for good.
5. Failure to Know your Customer Expectations
It is a common maxim in business management that you can only manage what you know. If you don’t understand your customers’ expectations there is no way you can meet them. By learning what your customers expect you will provide a level of service commensurate and even exceeding such expectations. Your employees will also focus more energy on areas that will help meet customer expectations and exceed the same. A satisfied customer will instantly become your advocate when you wow them with both desirable and acceptable service.
6. Lack of Transparency
One of the major complaints customers make against businesses is lack of honesty especially from the customer service representatives. If a customer fully trusts your business they are more likely to return. By providing honest answers to queries you will be meeting customer expectations. Every customer expects the brand they are interacting with has the right answers. If you are using the wrong information to market your products and services you will soon be faced with dissatisfied customers who will then go on to spread word about your dishonesty.
7. Poor Staff Attitude
According to a UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) 77% of customers in 2013 were more interested in staff attitude and behavior. When a customer interacts with your brand they expect the front-liners to be welcoming and knowledgeable. After all they represent your brand. If this is not the case you are not managing customer expectations and you risk losing business. Your front desk staff must be decisive, knowledgeable, empathetic, friendly and fair. This is the least your customers expect when they call or come into your business.
8. Poor Service Delivery
The pressure to win over customers may force you to push too much and in the process strain your resources. This is counterproductive because you end up failing to deliver. What you should focus on is extraordinary service delivered within the agreed timelines.
There are other blunders to avoid including failure to keep the dialogue going, lack of important information on your website, failure to stick to time guidelines and simply not giving a response.
Big brands such as Amazon have invested heavily in managing customer expectations and they are reaping big. Whatever the size of your company you can also leverage the benefits of having satisfied customers in your business by avoiding these common mistakes.