Are your employees set to exceed customer expectations?

Are your employees set for exceeding customer expectations?

It is common knowledge that one can achieve customer delight by exceeding customer expectations.

However, expectations might not always be consistent across your customers. Consider a customer who had bad experience previously and hence comes to you with low expectations. On the other end of spectrum, there might be a customer who has switched to your company from a premium competitor because you might be offering a lower price point. However, his or her expectations might not have changed in accordance with the lower price and so even your best service might fall short of satisfying such a customer.

The point here is that realistic expectations have to be set at the onset of relationship with a customer. This is the point I wish to discuss with you today.

As a family business owner or a business manager, you are in a good position to set correct client expectations because your knowledge & experience.  However, are your employees able to do the same? And, by employees, I don’t mean just your sales team. Every employee that comes in contact with the customer sets expectations.

Common reasons many employees are not in a position to set correct expectations include inexperience, incomplete information about your business or lack of good communication skills. Sometimes the reason can also include lack of motivation or dissatisfaction with your company. However, inexperience (in your domain or with your clients) and incomplete information about your business capabilities are by far the most common reasons.

The solution that helps best in enabling your employees to set clear customer expectations is offering them (your employees) clarity. By clarity, I mean clarity of your service boundaries, clarity of what would cause cost or time escalations and clarity about implicit assumptions that your customers frequently make. Such clarity along with a well defined customer on-boarding process will help your employees consistently set correct customer expectations.

As you must have inferred already, this isn’t a one-time effort. You must keep refreshing these points in your employees’ minds.

While you should strive to exceed customer expectations, you must first satisfy customer expectations consistently. I have seen many businesses spending efforts on delighting one customer at the cost of dissatisfaction of other customers. Such inconsistent service often catches up with their reputation over time.

One of the surest ways of surpassing customer’s expectation is adding more value to your service than promised.  An example (in the context of tours & travels industry) would be finding  hotels which have more star rating in the same area without changing customer’s price point. Another would be arranging for flights with fewer stopovers without escalating original cost.  Value articulation exercise i.e. communicating what your customer really values to your employees would be a great start for achieving this.

Also, surpassing the customer’s expectations requires your employees understand what your brand stands for and that they themselves need to go an extra mile for the customer. Deploying employees with positive mindset to interface with customers is the key here. Identifying such talents from existing employees and giving them relevant training must be on your agenda.

To summarize, I think that you should first prepare your employees to consistently meet your customer’s expectations before hoping to exceed them. Consciously setting correct customer expectations at the inception of your relationship goes a long way in achieving or exceeding expectations. And, last but not the least, the main ingredients that will help your employees manage customer expectations are clarity about your business and a positive frame of mind. You must work on these with your employees on a continuous basis.

So then, what is going to be your next step towards enabling your employees exceed customer expectations?

Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

Comments

  • Great article as always.

    Rahul BahraOctober 9, 2013
  • Very relevant article, specially the point on cocnsistency in meeting expectation before striving to exceed. I feel predictability is ceratinly valued compared to flashes to excellence that come rarely.

    Pranali SaveOctober 9, 2013
  • Another very good article.
    It is true that we must try to meet/exceed customer expectation.
    I have one point to add. We should do benchmarking on this.What out compititors or similar industry is doing?We can implement those good practices & also can start new practices after analysing cost -benifit .

    Dilip ChuriOctober 9, 2013
  • Thank you for educating us with these excellent articles.

    Macchindra AwariOctober 10, 2013
  • Hi Deepak,

    This article is indeed a very well articulated doctrine on customer service.
    Whilst no company today denies the need for continually improvising their customer services and addressing more than the statd needs of their customers, most are aware that they are actually turning a blind eye to most of the customer issues due to their over all imperatives of pruning costs and/or improving their efficiencies.

    I observe more glaring gaps in customer services today than before – earlier processes were made to serve customers, today they are cited to inform them why “things cannot be done” – Sir, this is as per our Copany policy or process”.

    Sadly, very rarely does one come across individuals or companies reinventing themselves or their prcesses to delight customers whilst they all tom tom that their actions are based on customer insights & feedback.

    I have several examples form a cross section of industries to corroborate my views expressed above and we can dwell on them in detail whenever you wish.

    Deepak Prahlad AgarwalOctober 11, 2013

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