Managing Customer Expectations – Part 1
TRANSCRIPT: Managing customer expectations is the cornerstone of customer service. It is the easiest and best way to truly provide great customer service. There is a misnomer in business. It is that great customer service is somehow defined by how well we handle customer issues. The truth is that avoiding these issues in the first place is what great customer service actually is. The best way to do that is to manage customer expectations. It really is the simplest way to keep things from becoming issues.
Some people call this, “Under promise, over deliver.” That is a fine definition, but it really is even simpler than that. It is just not that complicated. Managing expectations is simple, but there is one caveat. You have to care about the people whose expectations you are managing.
What do I mean by that? I am talking about empathy. You need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you can do that, then you will begin to have empathy. If you have empathy, you will begin to manage their expectations because you want them to have a great experience right from the beginning.
Let’s describe some quick real life examples of managing or not managing customer expectations and how they affect customers. I was at a quick serve chicken restaurant in Kentucky recently called Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. (Not KFC, even though they are in Kentucky…) So, LFRC, we will call it, is a chain of restaurants throughout the Midwest. I had never been to one before. I was in a rush, so I ordered via the drive-thru. What happened was that one of the three items I ordered wasn’t prepared yet. The cashier that was managing the drive-thru let me know by saying, “Not a problem, just wanted to let you know that that item will take about seven minutes. Would you like to wait?”
I actually didn’t want to wait, so I ordered something else. I took my meal and went back to my hotel. I ate it, and it was great. The moral of this story is that had she just taken my order and my money, and then told me to pull over out of the way because it would be about seven minutes, I would have been unhappy. Why would she manage my expectations like that? Why did she tell me in advance what to expect if I ordered that certain item? It is because she is tired of getting yelled at by customers. She is the one who feels the brunt of misaligned customer expectations. So whenever they don’t have something ready there, they all know enough to manage the expectations of their customers because it keeps customers happy. Happy customers don’t yell at the cashiers.
Those closest to the customer can make or break the relationship. It is as simple as that.