Failure to appropriately manage customer expectations can lead to poor service. Customers develop their expectations from multiple sources. This includes past experience, communication from the company, and doing business with competitors. An unpleasant surprise happens when customers receive service that falls short of their expectations. You can avoid this problem if you help customers adjust their expectations to match the service they will likely receive.
- Have you ever had a customer service rep promise to call you back, but they never did? The employee might have been friendly. Their company might have had a great product, but the part you remember is they didn't do what they said they would do. Poor service is defined as service that falls short of expectations. You can think of it as an unpleasant surprise. Take a moment to think about a situation where you were the customer and received an unpleasant surprise. How did it make you feel? Did the experience influence whether you did business with that company? Did you share your negative experience with someone else? Our job in customer service is to help prevent these unpleasant surprises from happening to our customers.
Now some situations are out of our control. For example, customers expect to receive products that are in good working condition. However, products sometimes have defects. The best we can do when that happens is try to make things right going forward. At other times, we can help customers avoid unpleasant surprises by doing a better job of establishing appropriate expectations. Customer can develop their expectations from multiple sources. Expectations can come from past experience. If a grocery store cashier lets a customer use an expired coupon, then that customer will expect to use expired coupons at the same store in the future.
This won't be a problem if the stores policy allows this, but the customer might receive an unpleasant surprise if accepting coupons is against the store's policy and the next cashier's more strict about following the rules. Customers can also develop expectations based upon word of mouth feedback from friends, family members or even online feedback from people they don't know. This can get tricky if the word of mouth information is inaccurate or incomplete. Let's say a wholesaler provides a large customer with special delivery options.
A smaller customer who hears about the service might not realize these options are only available to customers who do a substantial volume. They might expect to get the same treatment and be disappointed when they don't. Customers can develop expectations from doing business with other companies. If a family traveling with an infant is allowed to board their airplane early so they have some extra time to get settled in, they might expect to board early on other airlines, too. This won't be an issue if they travel on another airline that allows customers to board early when they're traveling with small children.
However, the family might get upset if the next airline doesn't have the same policy. Customers can also develop expectations based upon how we communicate with them. So, if we tell a customer we're going to call them back, they'll naturally expect that we really will call. It's that last part, our communication, that we have the most control over. But we can often influence our customer's expectations no matter how they've developed them. Throughout this course, I'm going to share techniques you can use to communicate effectively with your customers and help them avoid unpleasant surprises.