In many cases, the key to keeping customers happy is managing expectations. It’s about making sure they know what's going to happen and when it will happen. If you’re not keeping your customers informed and sending them regular updates then they're going to get frustrated, which leads to mismatched expectations and poor service delivery.
Annoyed customers will then share their feelings by submitting negative feedback responses, driving an increase in complaints and, potentially leave you for a competitor.
Managing expectations doesn't have to be complicated. But it does need to be a priority - unless you want higher customer churn.
Customers have their expectations, which we can’t always control
In today’s world, a customer's expectation isn't always the one that you’ve set. The standard is now established by brands like Amazon, Uber and AirBnB - organisations well known for delivering beyond customer expectations.
If you’re not yet operating or delivering at these standards, then this can (through no fault of your own), cause dissatisfaction. Customers no longer benchmark organisations by the best in your industry, they benchmark against the best in every industry.
Proactive communications can help you reset customer expectations
If you proactively communicate with your customers you can actually reset their expectations. Say, for example, a customer is accustom to next day delivery from Amazon Prime, but your product will take 2-3 days to ship. If you proactively tell your customer when to expect the order and offer them a specific time slot for the delivery, then this will probably be okay - even though it takes longer than they expect. The process doesn't have to end here though, always give the customer options and when the delivery goes out, use proactive communication to keep them informed of where their delivery is so they are kept in the loop.
The customer knows what the standard procedure is at the start of the process and they have a clear expectation on what you can achieve. As long as you also deliver on the back of this promise, then the customer is unlikely to be frustrated.
However, it's worth remembering that they're also unlikely to be delighted. Even if you've proactively communicated to your customer and set their expectations in line with what you can deliver, they will still compare you to those organisations doing the same but faster. Brand's that set themselves apart make this a priority and close in on that experience so that they're competing with the best and putting the customer at the heart of everything they do.
It is the unexpected sometimes that delights customers the most
We’re all familiar with a certain level of service. We typically expect most things to be easy, which creates a base requirement from brands for their customers - this is what you need to do to meet and manage customer expectations. But just reaching this level won't delight customers.
Delighting means going beyond expectations. It presupposes an element of surprise; that’s always better than having a pre-meditated or pre-motivated planned approach to delighting. It’s often out of those interactions that take place, in the moment, with someone thinking on their feet and doing the right thing that causes the feeling of delight, as opposed to a set of tools or processes that you've given somebody.
It's that person in a store or on the phone that does something unexpected, and beyond expectation, that lifts the customer's day and lifts their experience. Actions like this are what drive the emotion of the customer, fuelling their advocacy and loyalty. Never forget the power of your people, they're key to driving this.
Creating customer delight by exceeding expectations - and making it easy
If customers expect something to be easy and it’s hard, then it’s damaging to the organisation. But if they expect it to be challenging and they find it isn’t easy, then they’re a lot more forgiving because they understand that complex processes won’t be simple.
We know that the dominant force driving loyalty is customer effort, research by BT has shown that 88% of customers are more likely to remain loyal if organisations make things easy for them. We know that customer effort is a hot topic in the world of CX and we also understand human behaviour, we will always choose to prefer to go though the path of least resistance. Our lives are busy and we want to know how brands can truly something back to us, when a brand does this right, we're delighted, they've exceeded our expectations.
You can’t always plan to delight your customers because that negates the surprise. But you can plan for it to be possible in what you do, set the expectation with your Frontline that delighting customers is the right thing to do.
Find out how you can exceed customer expectations, with our free eBook: Exceeding Customer Expectations One Touchpoint at a Time. We explore how you can offer your customers a choice of channel, requesting feedback at all customer touchpoints and by acting on customer comments in real-time to continuously drive change.