Customer expectations need alignment

Customer expectations are rarely met.

Customer expectations and your business goals could be clashing

It’s your business so it’s your goals that are important.  But if they’re not in sync with your target customers expectations, their problems, frustrations, wants and needs, then you have a problem. You need to change what’s causing this misalignment and the sooner the better.  Business today is not about you, it’s about the customer. It’ not about technology and social media, it’s about customer expectations.

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life which makes it a perfect time to make a change. Unfortunately many will have the same old problems nagging them and their vision. They are lacking change strategies to start meeting customer expectations. Many feel the frustration of having a vision but are unable to achieve it for one reason or another. Do you have a vision or a goal but something is stopping you?  What is it and how can you achieve some of your major goals this year? Change strategies to deal with customer expectations that could be blocking your progress, http://goo.gl/5blD0e

When customers have high expectations and the reality fall short

They will be disappointed and will likely rate their experience as less than satisfying. When this happens sales and profits start to deteriorate. Excellent customer service means great customer experiences. High customer satisfaction must start with understanding exactly what the customer expectations really are.  You need to know who your customers are and what they are expecting when they make a particular purchase. Customer expectations will also vary between various markets and market segments.

Customer expectations are changing . A good example of this is that customers are wanting to know where the products they purchase come from and the ingredients used in the manufacture.  Your point of difference while meeting customer expectations could well be tractability of the products you are supplying them. No matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat your customers ultimately tells all. Integrity is everything.

Becoming your customer’s first choice

The story of buying and selling has been a challenging experience for both buyers and sellers. Making a purchase can be a long-drawn-out process of consideration, negotiation and doing the transaction. Meet your customer expectations and stand out from the crowd.

The benefits of understanding customer expectations can impact all areas of the business. Therefore it is important to clearly communicate your ‘service levels’ to the customer and to be sure each and every employee and contractor understands them and adheres to them.

The benefits of having service levels documented and communicated might include

  • All stakeholders have a clear understanding of the service levels required to meet customer expectations.
  • It enables stakeholders at the various levels to focus on fulfilling customer expectations.
  • They become easier to have your business become the customer’s first choice.
  • It gives you the opportunity to exceed expectations and create a network of referrals and advocates.
  • It can help you quickly resolve customer complaints before dissatisfaction sets in.

To achieve the results you want, you must first gain a genuine understanding of people, what their frustrations and problems are and what they really want and need.

Customer expectations have changed

Buyers have always been in control of their consideration phase and sellers have always been in control of negotiation and transaction phases because they ‘own’ the valuable information relevant to the purchase. Today’s buyers are no longer dependent on the salesperson’s information. They have taken control of the entire buying cycle including doing the negotiation and initiating the transaction.

No longer do you have traditional body language to help you. You must, therefore, understand digital body language. Today with information technology available everywhere, the buyer is able to quickly find the information and price about a pending purchase and do it with confidence and without any human contact. But, just as in the old days a buyer still looks to do business with people they can trust. This means that you must be able to give the customer the confidence to trust you at every touch point. It means thinking about the people and organisations that influence them, including community organisations, other suppliers and people who might be doing the research for them.

The hard facts about customer expectations

A study by A. Parasuraman, Leonard L. Berry and Valarie A. Zeithaml, found these key insights when they were researching customer expectations across sixteen focus group participants:

Customers expect service basis

There is a perceived expectation that every customer has when going into a business relationship. For example, a hotel customer thinks that when they pay more they expect more.

The service process is the key to exceeding expectations

Companies are supposed to be accurate and dependable and provide the service they promised. It’s unlikely for a hotel to exceed customer expectations if they only just have the customer’s room ready. The opportunity lies in the ability to surprise the customer with an uncommon swiftness, face, courtesy, competence, commitment, or understanding.

Customer expectations are duel-leveled

The study found that customers’ expectations had two levels: desired and sufficient. The desired level is the service the customer hopes to obtain while the sufficient level is the service which the customer finds acceptable.

The study found that customers’ expectations had two levels: desired and sufficient. The desired level is the service the customer hopes to obtain while the sufficient level is the service which the customer finds acceptable.

Customers want relationships

Relationships are important to customers. Many of the customers interviewed want to be ‘relationship customers’, they want ongoing, personalised relationship with the same person from the company. They want a company representative to contact them, rather than always having to initiate contact themselves.

Relationships are important to customers. Many of the customers interviewed want to be ‘relationship customers’, they want ongoing, personalised relationship with the same person from the company. They want a company representative to contact them, rather than always having to initiate contact themselves.

Manage promises

To manage expectations, companies can first start managing their promises. The study found that some observers recommended deliberately under-promising the service to increase the likelihood of exceeding customer expectations. This is something I regularly recommend to our customers all the time. There’s nothing worse than over-promising and under delivering! Keep in mind that there are some risks with under promising as it can reduce your competitive appeal, so make sure you are aware of your competitive environment.

It is essential for businesses to manage customer satisfaction. To be able to do this, you need a reliable way to measure satisfaction. A customers’ expectation is that metric. A lot can go wrong during your business relationship with customers. It’s necessary to make sure you are always thinking about setting expectations, meeting expectations or resetting expectations.

Customer expectations involve more trust

Building trust with your customers and potential customers is key to discovering and understanding their buying motives and what it will take to fulfil customer expectations. This requires knowing every step of the customer’s buying cycle and being able to clearly communicate to the buyer at each step. You  must be able to reassure them that your number one priority is to take care of them. To not only provide them with a good product or service at a good price but to be reliable, practical, useful and helpful as you nurture them through their buying cycle.

Your digital presence should convey a feeling of caring and sharing. There must be a level of confidence that will cause the customer to trust you and want to be involved with your organisation.

In building trust you will need to

  • Demonstrate that you understand their frustrations, problems, wants and needs.
  • Be transparent about how you will serve the customer.
  • That you are able to help them clarify their issues and do research for them.
  • Show how you can provide them with the best solution.
  • Clearly put forward your prices and logistics.
  • Traceability of your products is important.

Your goal is to determine that you have the right product or service to actually solve the buyer’s issues. In doing this you will need to win the buyer’s trust. You must show genuine interest with the intention to serve the buyer and not just ‘sell’ them. Once a buyer has done their research, they will be looking for the person or business who can not only solve their issues, but they will be looking for someone they can trust.

How do you build trust and meet customer expectations?

Trust to a business is like oil to a car engine. It keeps the moving parts from seizing up and stopping the forward motion of the car. Customers expectations will include being comfortable with and certain of the decisions they make. No one makes a buying decision when they are uncertain, just as a buyer who lacks trust will usually stall the buying process.

trust-from-your-customers

If customers trust you they will do extreaordinary things.

 

A good place to start managing customer expectations could be to start managing the promises your business makes. There’s nothing more infuriating than overpromising and under-delivering. By deliberately under-promising the customer it will help to automatically increase the likelihood of exceeding customer expectations. Keep in mind that there are some risks with under promising as it can reduce your competitive position.

Make sure you are aware of your competitors market positioning

Customer preferences will be just as important online as offline. Because there is no longer any real difference in the purchasing behaviour of today’s online customers and offline customers, your positioning will be critical.

You can’t take trust for granted. Some people seem to have a knack for receiving and building trust. Others take them at their word and in their absence, people speak well of them. Even when they make an error, others give them the benefit of the doubt. Some people are just the opposite, distrustful of what they say and are suspicious of their motives.

If you are in a situation where you need to build trust into your customer’s expectations, there are some key things you can do and encourage your people to do.

Be reliable, keeping your word really helps

Others learn to trust you as they can count on you to deliver on your promises. Be on time every time for meetings and appointments.

Always tell the truth

Most of you like to think of yourselves as always telling the truth. However it’s easy to be a spin doctor, by rounding the numbers up, distorting the facts, or conveniently leaving out data that doesn’t support our case.

Values play a big role

While it is sometimes difficult to quickly see another person’s true values, it is achievable over time. It is important in building long-term trust to work with people with similar values.

Sharing

Be willing to share your information and knowledge, your contacts and your time, without expecting anything in return. The more you take the initiative to give and show understanding, the more it builds trust. Develop your content marketing approach.

Caring

Demonstrate to others that you care about them, about their frustrations, problems, wants and needs. Show respect and people will be more trusting. Every person has something worthwhile to contribute, so be sympathetic and show empathy.

It’s never about you

People will learn to trust you more quickly if they know you have their best interests at heart. Make sure your motives are pure, without expecting something in return. Customers trust people who show genuine interest in them and their issues, no more ‘I and me’.

Be transparent

People will not trust you unless you learn to share yourself, warts and all. You need to take risks and be vulnerable, which helps to build better relationships and trust.

Enthusiasm  is infectious

People like to be around positive and enthusiastic people and they are more willing to trust them, a smile goes a long way.  Negative people are more likely to be distrusted.

Be authentic

There is nothing more pleasing than seeing a person being themselves. Why would you continue to compromise something that’s good to create something that is fake and most people can see through.

Give without strings being attached

Move your ‘free line’ you don’t have to charge for every minute of your time. Become a giver, not a taker making sure you’re always useful and helpful as nothing will build trust more quickly.

Buyers need your honest advice, your credible promise and of course your resolution of their issues. It takes months, sometimes years to build trust, but unfortunately you can lose it in a heartbeat. Building trust is key to discovering and understanding customer expectations and their real motives.

If you want to be the best in your field, keep in mind it will always take the time to build trust. It doesn’t matter what else you have, a great product, or service, money or contacts, time always has to be a key factor in building any relationship that will meet customer expectations. Even in times of limited supply, customer expectations must be respected.

Quotable quotes

 “The first step in exceeding your customer expectations is to know those expectations”.  Roy Williams

“When customers have high expectations and the reality falls short, they will be disappointed and will likely rate their experience as less than satisfying. For this reason, luxury resort, for example, might receive a lower satisfaction rating than a budget motel—even though its facilities and service would be deemed superior in ‘absolute’ terms”. Marketing Metrics

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