Do you have a “problem customer” or two among the customers who buy products and services from you?
I have news.
It’s likely the problem isn’t the customer.
The problem is how you set expectations, and then meet or miss them, and how you interact with that customer.
False, you say?
Consider the quality of experience customers have with your company in these areas:
- What expectations you set
- How you meet those expectations…or how you miss them
- How easy it is for customers to contact you to get an issue resolved fairly, when things go wrong
- How you respond when expectations are not met
1. What expectations do you set?
Consider your advertising, marketing, and the experiences customers and prospects have with your employees through direct, as well as social media and other interactions.
What promises are made?
What expectations are created, whether intentionally or accidentally, by what is implied and what is written or said?
And are you attracting the right customers for the products and services you sell? If not, that may be a problem, as well.
You may be drawing customers to your company whose needs you really can’t fill.
Do a quick test:
Look at your advertising with “fresh eyes,” pretending you don’t know any more about your company than what you see there.
What promises appear to be made to the people who buy your products or services, based on the photos and words in your advertising?
For example, what are customers led to believe about:
- Product and service quality and reliability?
- The ease of doing business with your company?
- Guarantees about what will happen if they aren’t satisfied?
These are just a few of the many customer expectations you should assess.
2. How do you meet the expectations?
Customer expectations you set must be backed up by processes that can, and performance that does deliver what you promise or imply.
What specific processes in your company must be top-notch and perform consistently, every time, in order to meet the expectations your advertising and marketing set?
Once our daughter, then about 7, looked disappointedly at the burger in her hand compared to the one on huge posters around her that showed her what to expect.
Her question about the sad little patty slapped between two halves of a soggy bun?
“Why doesn’t my burger look like THAT?!”
I laughed, but her point was well-taken.
The frustration and disappointment created is even greater when the product or service involved affects more of the customer’s life or livelihood than does one disappointing burger.
3. How easy is it for customers to contact you to try to get an issue resolved fairly, and well, if things go wrong?
Make it easy for customers to contact you, and easily reach the department they need in order to be heard, and to get their problem solved.
Don’t try to shut them down, or lead them astray, hoping they’ll get lost, and give up, somewhere in a phone tree maze.
Make it easy for them to be happy – no, ecstatic – with your company.
Because if you create a minefield or a brick wall when problems arise, they’re likely to take their frustration with them…and to share it liberally on Twitter and Facebook…on their way to giving their future business to one of your competitors.
4. How do you respond when expectations are not met?
Train your employees so they’re well-prepared for the frustrated customers they may be working with, and trying to help.
Keep your employees well-informed about your latest products, promotions, and other aspects of your business that affect the promises you’re making to customers, and the expectations you are teaching them to have.
Help your employees understand that customer feedback of all types really IS gold…no matter what they think of it at the moment that they’re receiving it.
Think of it this way (and trust me on this):
- The customer doesn’t WANT to call customer support.
- He doesn’t WANT to need to get a refund.
- He wants the product or service and the ownership experience he was led to expect by your company’s expectation-setting practices.
Make it easy for your customers to say good things about you to other potential buyers.
Set expectations you’re committed to meet.
And then deliver what you taught your customers to want, and to expect from you.
If you found this post valuable, please share it with friends and colleagues who may find it useful, too. You’ll also like the free weekly newsletter I publish every Tuesday. You can sign up for the newsletter here.