Do you know what your customers are expecting of you? If not, you need to learn how to manage customer expectations.
What will understanding their expectations do for your business? This article looks at expectations and how it can make or break your business.
Customer expectations are what drives your business and keeps them coming back.
What Do They Expect?
Not many businesses endeavor to find out what their customers want! Owners assume they know. Big mistake! Set up a Customer Expectations program find the necessary information.
If you want to grow your business, find out what your customers expect of you. How can you do this? Ask them! Why not have an ‘Expectations Week’.
Tell your staff that this week’s goal is to ask customers what they expect of the business. Set a target of approaching a certain number of customers a day and just ask, “If I was to ask you what your top 3 expectations of doing business with us are, what would they be?”
Alternatively, you could put out an Expectations Book and ask customers to write down their comments. This way, they will not be embarrassed and perhaps may be more frank!
If you operate your business remotely, why not do an e-mail survey? Consider offering a prize to encourage responses.
Step 1: Great Expectations
What is your customer likely to come up with as expectations of doing business with you? Here are some possible answers:
- Fast and efficient service
- On-time deliveries
- Competitive price
- Quality products or deliverables
- Sufficient stock to meet orders
- Trained and courteous staff
- Being treated politely and with respect
- Phones are promptly answered
- E-mails are replied within a reasonable timeframe.
- Commitments are kept.
- A clear complaints procedure
- Clean and well-maintained premises
Depending on your business, this list could become quite lengthy!
Have a brain storming session with your team over coffee and you might be pleasantly surprised at additional expectations you will come up with.
Add any other ideas that you can think of to this list as this will help you in the next step.
Step 2: Review and Take Action
Now with your list of expectations, your next step is to review them and see which ones you are currently meeting.
Remember, you may think you are meeting a certain expectation, but this is an opportunity for a quick reality check to ensure that it is really happening.
Expectations Currently not Being Delivered
The remaining list items left are the expectations which you are not currently delivering on. Look at each one and ask yourself whether you could meet that expectation.
If you realistically cannot meet it, delete it. The list item may have come from an over exuberant customer who just expects too much!
Create an Action Plan
You will then be left with several core expectations, which you could meet with some thought and action.
Sit down with a pen and paper and put in place an Action Plan on what needs to be done to achieve what your customer expects of you. Get your staff together and all commit to putting the outcomes into action within a known timeline.
The plan is useless if you do not work on its implementation.
Now You Listened, What Comes Next
Having gone to the trouble of asking your customers what they expect of you, do not forget to provide them with some feedback.
If you gathered ideas from the shop floor, put up a notice thanking everyone for their participation and listing the expectations you are taking action on.
Why not display an Expectations List around the work environment to serve as a constant reminder like your Vision and Mission statements?
If you had responses via e-mail, reply and again outline what you have done. You could even list the expectations on your web site.
Having gone to all this trouble of asking, reviewing and taking action, it is all too easy to forget what you committed after a few weeks or months.
Make sure that at least once a quarter you re-visit the original list and check that you are still delivering what your customers expect of you. If not, find out why and fix the loophole.
What Can You Expect?
If you have followed through on the steps, what is in it for you? After all, the customers get what they want, but what will be payback for the business?
- Your customers are likely to return more often
- They are more likely to remain loyal customers
- They will spend more at the business
- They will be an ambassador for you and your business
- They will generate referrals
These are strong reasons to put an expectations program in place! More business means more revenue and that is what you want!
Conclusion – How to Manage Customer Expectations
So, review these steps on how to handle customer expectations and consider asking your customers what they want of you. If you can manage their expectations, you manage their experience and therefore manage your profits!
Need help managing customer expectations? Contact us to assist