One of the most frequent deterrents to positive relationship building is falling short of customer expectations. Customers will have expectations and sometimes they are totally unrelated to any information they’ve been given. Often they’re formulated in their own mind and never discussed with their service provider. So it’s incumbent on the sales person to ask questions in order to understand what the customer seeks and what their expectations are. Given a level of understanding regarding the customer’s perspective it’s also important to take care when communicating with the customer so that the right expectations are set. Following are tips on managing customer expectations:
- Understand the Customer’s Perspective – Although there is a good deal of commonality in customer thinking in a given target market – most people have their own view of the world. Understanding the customer’s perspective requires asking questions to determine their perception of value. Jim Cathcart – author and teacher on relationship selling – uses the term “Innerview” to refer to an interview. It’s a great name as it depicts the view of the customer from inside their mind. Understanding the customer’s perspective requires relating to their point of view.
- Make Informed Decisions – It’s easy to set the wrong expectations by acting too quickly or responding to a customer without having all the information. For example the promise delivery date for completed vehicle repair is an easy place to set unrealistic expectations. There are so many variables involved in completing repair on a vehicle such as repairs identified as results of inspections and diagnosis, parts deliveries, etc. This is probably a simplistic example but the most important thing is to have all the information before giving the customer a definitive answer.
- Under Promise and Over Deliver – When committing to a date/time, price or any other factor it’s best to leave some leeway for unforeseen circumstances. This will reduce the risk of disappointing the customer and hopefully will provide the opportunity to exceed expectations.
- Communicate and Explain the Process – People appreciate knowing the steps that will be taken to get from point A to point B when they’re depending on someone else. Communication can be a powerful influence in building solid relationships.