Managing customer expectation levels

You fall into the danger of promising the client everything in order to secure the deal. Very quickly you realise that you have over promised and you start to fall short of your customer’s expectation levels.

Suddenly frustration creeps in on both sides. The client is unhappy with your service and you feel that he or she is unreasonable in their demands, however, they are only measuring you against what you promised at the outset.

Then inevitably somewhere down the line you lose the business at an enormous cost to both parties in terms of time, money and effort.

Winning any business in today’s competitive climate is challenging enough, however, the hardest part is retaining the business and managing the client’s expectation level. You can only do this effectively, if at the outset you state clearly the realistic and achievable service levels and then work towards clear goals that both sides subscribe to and report against them on a regular basis.

As human beings we are very emotional and it is that emotion that sometimes clouds our judgement when it comes to over promising and then securing a deal at a ridiculous cost. As a business owner I’ve also fallen into this trap.

It is also a fact that due to poor communication and inadequate processes, you can fall short in your service delivery via the actions of those people within your own organisation. People who fail to follow through on key elements of a service agreement that you’d previously put in place ultimately let you and the customer down, which comes at a cost – the loss of the business forever!

So how do we get this critical process right and how do we manage the expectation, which ultimately decides the fate of the client?

  1. Establish the client’s needs at the outset and make sure that you have the service capability in place to match those needs.
  2. Be clear in the communication process as to what you will be providing against those needs.
  3. Document what you AGREE and get the client to subscribe to the service agreement.
  4. Ensure that all those people in your own organisation who have a part to play in the service delivery, understand the needs, service commitments and subscribe to exceeding expectation levels.
  5. Have a set of values in place that take seriously customers and their expectation levels and make sure that everyone subscribes to them.
  6. Make sure that your organisations procedures and processes are structured to deliver the service levels that you promote.
  7. Measure and report on a monthly basis and communicate progress clearly to the client.
  8. Be prepared to change if the objectives are not being met and re-evaluate the needs on-going with the client.
  9. Deal with complaints and queries immediately. Correct what is wrong, apologise with sincerity and move forward as swiftly as possible.
  10. Always aim to exceed the customer’s expectation and deliver Excellent Customer Service.