Customers and clients have high expectations of businesses. Do you know how to offer your customers–both new and current–what they want?
Start from the beginning: the new customer
With a new client or client, getting to know yourself is essential. That way, you can determine the expectations at each end. It is essential to control these problems as soon as possible. It’s the old analogy. If you don’t start with a solid foundation, what you work to build will fall apart.
Here are some ways to establish those early expectations.
- Define clear deliverables: Send your client a detailed list of deliverables with realistic deadlines for each line item.
- To be realistic: Make sure you and your customer are on the same page about what your product or service can do for them. In some cases, that means saying what you can and cannot do. By setting realistic expectations up front, you are able to manage or exceed expectations.
- Establish regular communication: Contact regularly to stay on top of expectations. Ask customers or customers which channel they want you to use.
- Get to know them personally: Show that you are a real human being. If you can understand their values, goals, struggles, and interests as a person, it helps you understand how to work with them.
- Always sign a contract: Make sure it details what the expectations are for both the customer and the business. Having the details in writing eliminates communication problems and makes it easier for all parties to understand the terms of the agreement.
- Be transparent: Share stories about why your customer relationships have gone bad. Prospects then see that they have a role to play in achieving common goals. This shared understanding helps to lay the foundation for the relationship.
- Be honest: Be clear with customers about what they are going to receive.
- Ask the client about specific goals: This allows you to set specific expectations. Ask what they hope to accomplish; get details. Discuss in depth what success looks like.
- Think like the customer: You will realize what it feels like to be them. In this regard, you can turn around and manage their expectations even better because you see more of what they want and why.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away: Customers may lose sight of the original agreement. Don’t be afraid to overpower the client if necessary. Make sure the client understands the deliverables. If the partnership doesn’t work anymore, you can always end it.
- Organize a kick-off meeting with the client: This is a great way to set clear expectations for deliverables, both what they are and when to expect them.
You need a plan
Having a plan in place to be able to manage customer expectations is critical to the success of a business. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself when developing a customer expectation management plan.
How are we going to prioritize and meet the needs of this client?
Your entire team needs to understand what the customer wants and what you have promised to deliver. Clearly identify how you are going to meet your client’s needs.
Also ask the customer what he expects from the business relationship. You need to understand the customer’s values, what they’re buying and why they’re buying it.
How are we going to communicate effectively with this client?
Set a schedule so the customer knows when they’ll hear from you. Determine if you will be checking in primarily by email, phone, or any other means. Note any changes in a timely manner.
Having a good communication plan in place ensures that everyone is on the same page and eliminates unpleasant surprises. Always be honest with the customer, even when it’s difficult. If you come across a situation where you made a mistake, clearly communicating what happened and being honest about it will help you a lot.
How can we still serve this customer?
Customers expect consistency. When services or goods change, the customer will at best feel lost and helpless, and at worst lose confidence in your business and seek help elsewhere.
By staying consistent, you can keep your customers content. They will know what to expect from you and continue to build a relationship with you because they trust you to do what you say. Don’t be afraid to ask your client or client how they think you are doing. Their feedback can help you highlight ways to improve your deliverables.
Are we making realistic promises?
Sometimes you have to say no to a customer. While it can be hard to admit that you can’t meet a need, it’s far worse to say you can, only to go back. In the first case, you and your business appear honest and knowledgeable about your product or service and what it is best for. In the second case, you appear untrustworthy.
When making promises to a customer, be realistic. Then do whatever you can to outperform. It’s a win-win, because you keep your word and impress the customer by going the extra mile.
How do we organize ourselves to better serve this client?
If you are organized, you are more likely to stay on top of everything you have promised your client. Nothing will fall through the cracks if all communication contact dates and times as well as reference dates and deadlines are on a list and available to all concerned.
In conclusion: it’s a question of respect
You can prove to your customers that they matter to you by managing their expectations from the start. Do it by being realistic and genuine, communicating clearly and consistently, and keeping your promises.