• 5 Critical Pieces to Managing Customer Expectations

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    Most customer service problems arise from scrambled expectations. The customer expected one thing and it wasn't delivered upon. It's possible the business never promised it, but the customer expected it, and so they feel disappointed.

    This expectation could involve quality, timeline, courtesy, or a variety of other things. But the biggest problems for businesses stem from disjointed expectations.

    This is actually good news because it's something you can work on.

    Managing customer expectations is one of the most valuable skills you can cultivate. Train your team on how to manage these expectations and you'll have fewer customer service issues.

    Here are five things to master in order to become a customer expectations ninja:

    Initial Communication

    Always communicate the steps of a process or purchase with your customers. Map it out for them if it's complex. Use a drip marketing campaign if you want to keep them in the know. You can set these up easily with the right marketing software. Besides keeping customers in the loop, drip marketing is also a good way to ensure they get the information they need in bite-sized chunks that they can remember. If you give them all of the information at once, it's likely they'll feel overwhelmed and forget crucial parts of it. Drip marketing can help ensure they receive memorable pieces in a digestible fashion.


    Waiting Communication

    Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that if their customer is waiting on something and they have nothing new to report, they needn't check in. That isn't the case. Even if you have nothing new to report as far as an answer is concerned, you are likely working on things behind the scenes. Touch base with your customer and let them know what you're doing, what you're waiting on, and what the next step is. Don't leave them in the dark. No customer service problem was ever fixed by silence.

    Be Authentic (Be Who You Are)

    Business marketing shapes who we want the outside world to see us as. But we're not the only ones shaping that picture. People on social media and review sites are doing the same thing but may not be doing it the same way or sending the same message about your company.

    That's why being authentic is so important. If you craft a witty marketing message but you're not that person in public, the disconnect will affect your reputation. People will post about it. Whenever you're choosing who or what you would like your business to be, keep it as close to who you are as possible. Pretending to be someone or something that you're not doesn't sell products or services anymore. The call for transparency will ensure that if you're not being authentic, customers will notice.

    Bonus idea: while you're being authentic, don't use the word "authentic." It's like the overuse of "honestly." It seems contrived.

    Get to Know Them

    If you know your audience and customers, you're more able to build relationships with them. You also can help manage their expectations when you know what they like and their preferences. But as you get to know them, it's better to have conversations offline and on. Many businesses are turning to surveys these days and they're causing a lot of survey fatigue among recipients.

    Record Details in Writing

    Finally, it's important to record every detail of what you plan on delivering and what the customer expects in writing. Put it in the contract then go over it with them. Don't let them skim it or rush them in any way. Go over it point by point. Let them ask questions. Urge them to sign each page to ensure they saw it all. There may still be questions after the contract's signed, but this way both parties have a solid reference to return to.
    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
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