Customer Expectations, Promises and Regret

by Jeannie Walters

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“What about problem customers?” 

“They don’t appreciate how complex the backend technology is to make this all work.”

“We can’t do it the way the customer wants us to because that department does things differently than we do.”

I am not lying when I say I’ve heard these things over and over again. The complaints about customers are frequent and persistent.

Yes, there are annoying customers who demand a little too much. But whose responsibility is that?

Set the right expectations and your customers will react positively to being surprised by exceeding those expectations.

We don’t walk into a Super 8 Motel and expect to find turn-down service and a concierge. We understand what the expectation is – a clean place to sleep.

Next time someone in your organization complains about customers, take a step back and examine what expectations your customers have. Are they fair? Would you be disappointed as a customer? The expectations start with your brand, and too often the marketing to customers is handled completely separately from the actual experience of customers.

Here’s a quick exercise for you to try:

– Write down your brand promise on a white board. Make sure you include the “unwritten” ideas, not just the official slogan.

(Don’t know what it is? That’s a big problem right there!)

– Consider what it takes to become a customer. Is that process representative of the words in your brand promise?

(Uh oh. Probably not? You’ve broken your first promise to the customer!)

– Mentally walk through what it’s like to be a customer. Is billing supportive of the brand promise? How about customer support and service? What about if customers refer others to you and advocate for your business? Do they get recognition and thanks?

Typically, this is when an executive wants to erase everything on the white board and start over. It’s messy, clunky and challenging, but important.

In a perfect world: Expectations lead to promises made and kept which lead to greater rewards.

In the real world: Expectations lead to promises made but not kept which lead to resentment and regret.

Where is your organization? Time to reset those expectations?

Photo credit: discoodoni via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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