Customer Expectations are Important

happy customer

Photo by Gustavo Fring

“We are in the customer service business. Our goal must be to exceed our customers’ expectations every day”. – Dave Thomas

True customer satisfaction and stellar customer service can only happen through a complete and proper understanding of customer expectations. Unless your company knows what your customers want, who they are, and what they expect, it would be difficult to even match up to their expectations. Companies should make it a practice to ask their customers whether they have met or exceeded their expectations through the products or services and customer service.

It’s only based on this feedback that companies can assuredly know that they match customer expectations. The reality, now, is that customer expectations are continually on the rise. Unless companies are attuned to them, they will fall short of those expectations, leading to customer ire and attrition. Customer service teams can meet customer expectations by delivering the right information. One way is by using tools. An example of such a tool is interactive decision trees, which help to improve customer satisfaction.

Understanding Customer Expectations

However companies approach this, there is no escape. Customer expectations set and raise the bar for customer service and the resultant satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This affects customer loyalty. Once they are displeased, it is unlikely that they will return. Pleased customers will return, but delighted customers will speak positive about your company through every possible channel. This happens when your company has consistently exceeded customer expectations. Customer testimonials are great free publicity that eliminates the first thread of doubt that most prospective customers have.

Facts about customer expectations

  1. Even before entering into a business relationship, customers have a perceived notion of what they want to receive from the relationship. Most often, customer expectations encompass receiving more than what they expect and pay for.
  2. Customers expect that companies will be dependable, honest, swift, and courteous. Companies can exceed these expectations by ensuring that each experience a customer has leaves them feeling happy. They should know that they commit to the company
  3. Customer expectations operate from two levels. First, they expect a certain kind of service and product and are satisfied when they receive it. The other level, which is the most desired one is, they expect to get more than what they are receiving.
  4. Among the top customer expectations is relationship building. Customers expect a personalized relationship with the company they are doing business with. They are happy when it is ongoing and consistent. Customers also prefer if the company connects with them to strike and deal and when it is done. They expect to interact with the same person each time they connect with the company. That is so that they do not have to repeat any information. This creates a bond and a feeling of oneness, which is very healthy for the association.
  5. Customer expectations also include that companies will keep their promise on everything committed. It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver, keeping in mind the competitive marketplace everyone operates in. Broken promises can have serious impacts on customer expectations. It leaves them feeling highly irritated with the possibility of severing the relationship.
  6. It is essential and difficult, but not impossible to manage customer satisfaction. One of the metrics of doing so is managing customer expectations. To prevent the souring of customer relationships, companies must carefully set and meet customer expectations. If it seems like something is going out of hand, it may be time to re-set or re-establish those expectations to manage them better.

As we said earlier, expectations from customers set the bar for their satisfaction. It would benefit companies immensely to understand customer expectations from this aspect:

  1. Companies can know for sure which level of customer service keeps customers satisfied. Also, what takes that satisfaction to a level of delight and wow.
  2. Understanding them can be disseminated to employees as knowledge. It makes it easier for them to service customers according to those standards.
  3. When meeting customer expectations becomes a standard, it paves the way to exceed these expectations. Customers become enthusiastic advocates of your company and its service.
  4. Having a grasp of customer expectations also lowers the number of complaints. Also in the event of a complaint, resolution becomes quicker and more effective. You already know what the customer expects as an outcome.

Ask customers about their expectations

Customers are different and so are their needs. Their understanding of stellar customer service is also different. To know how the customer feels, it’s best for companies to ask them, rather than going by what they believe they ‘know’. Sometimes companies may find that the customer expectations are beyond what they can deliver. For example, a company may not have the infrastructure to support a 24×7 online chat service.

They would need to work around that to be able to provide what the customer needs. Products and services should have prices according to what the customer finds suitable. Yet, they remain profitable for your company. That is why knowing customer expectations at the outset is crucial. It allows you to understand them better and weave them into your company’s policies and customer service strategy.

Set customer expectations

Knowing and understanding customer expectations at the outset, helps your company to work with the customer to set the expectations at an optimum level. Don’t set the expectations too high, lest you fail. Setting them too low can leave your customer feeling that your company is incompetent. Let your customers know what level of service they can expect.

Also, the kind of support you provide and the established standards in your company, to ensure that customer needs are fulfilled. Every company has different methods of satisfying customer expectations, as every customer would have a different set of needs and expectations. It would work well if companies were to treat every customer as their first. The one person who can give them the finest testimonial. This would drive everyone in the company to serve the customer with the highest level of service and provide the best products possible.

Satisfy customer expectations

Before companies can strive to exceed customer expectations, they must first reach a level where they consistently meet those expectations. It is only then that you would have a set of satisfied customers. Building on these levels of satisfaction, companies can aim to exceed them, thereby, creating experiences that wow and delight customers. These are the experiences that the customers are likely to share with others. They give a boost to your company’s reputation and attract more customers.

Failure to meet the expectations

Having said that, companies must strive to exceed expectations. There will be times when companies will fail to please. Customers can be dissatisfied and the reasons are many. Untrained staff, technology failure, human error, and heightened expectations due to past great service levels are some of the reasons for a service lapse, leaving customers unhappy. The good news is that customers can tolerate these occasional lapses since your company was consistent in providing great service. Customers expect when things go wrong, there is a genuine effort to make it better. Companies should strive to not have repeated errors.

The Verdict

Customers know what good service is, what they can expect, and what companies can give. These form customer expectations. Companies that get a grip on these expectations are the ones that not only meet them but also exceed them.

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