Managing Customer Expectations – Part 2
TRANSCRIPT: Here is a quick example of not managing customer expectations. I was in a nice restaurant recently, and they had a great wine list. Although it was printed on plain white paper, it listed about fifty nice reds. I had my eye on two of them. When the waitress came over, I ordered a bottle of what I thought would be my favorite. She immediately told me, “I am sorry sir, but we are out of that.” I said it wasn’t a problem and ordered a second bottle because I always try to keep a couple in mind. She took my order and left.
She came back with everyone else’s drinks, but didn’t have the bottle of wine. She said, “I am sorry sir, but that one is out of stock as well. May I recommend something else?” I had so set my mind on that bottle of wine and was so unhappy with what had happened so far. First, I ordered one bottle, and it was not in stock. Then, the second was not available either. So I just drank water.
Think about this, the restaurant lost forty dollars, maybe more because there were a few of us who were going to have wine. Instead, some only had soda or water. Even ordering one mixed drink, it totaled less that our wine would have. On top of that, the waitress lost about eight to ten dollars in tip because we did not order the wine which made our bill lower. What bothers me about them not managing my expectations, which in this case was printing the right wine list for the day, is that as I said earlier, the wine list was printed on plain white paper on a standard printer. It was probably done in the back office of the restaurant. Why couldn’t they care enough about their customers to print an up to date wine list? They were out of two fairly popular bottles of wine. So, that is a one example.
How about this one? I was on a Delta flight recently, and the WIFI was not working. When WIFI first came onto airlines, I thought,” Now, this is the stupidest thing ever. This is my time to get away from work.” But now that I run my own business, I actually enjoy working once we get above ten thousand feet. Most of my work on the plane would occur via the web. This was a plane that was supposed to be equipped with WIFI, and the flight was a little more than three hours long. My problem is that Delta knew the WIFI was out well before we took off. They didn’t make the announcement until we had reached ten thousand feet.
I stopped the flight attendant who had made that announcement and asked him when they knew the WIFI was not working. He told me that it had been out for some time on that plane. They had known before we took off. I asked why they had not told us before we took off, and he said he just did not think about it. Here’s the problem for me and maybe for others. I have people who work with me who would be happy to monitor my email if they knew I was not available. There are others who might be part of a group email with me assuming that I will take care of responding to it, but they don’t know that I am going to be out of contact for more than three hours.
On top of that, let’s assume that I just had an important email come through on my cell phone. I wanted to respond right away, but I wanted to make sure that I responded well and that it was well formatted with spell check done. Therefore, I didn’t want to type with my thumbs on my iPhone. Perhaps I was going to wait twenty minutes until we were at ten thousand feet. Fact of the matter is, I couldn’t respond to that for about four hours, until I got back into the terminal or at least until we landed. That is really a silly issue that would have been very easy to fix had that flight attendant had any empathy for the people on that plane. Had he thought about anything other than the assigned messages that he needed to announce. That is a bad customer experience that could have been avoided simply by managing my expectations. He could have announced ten minutes before take-off, “Just so you know, the WIFI is down on this flight. Please take the next ten minutes before we take off to answer any emails you might have through your iPhone or android phone.” It would have been very easy.
Here is a final example I am going to give you on not managing customer expectations. I was at a grocery store while I was out of town on vacation. I had been on vacation for a week and had been using my American Express card throughout California during the vacation. Suddenly, I am in a grocery store making a purchase that was less than fifty dollars, and my American Express card was declined. I thought it was wrong, so I slid it again and again. People were beginning to line up behind me. It was becoming a little bit of an embarrassing situation. Finally, I just gave up and used my Visa card and left.
I called American Express and wanted to know what was happening. They said that they thought the charge was fraudulent, so they stopped it. Now, mind you, I had probably charged about five thousand dollars over the last week on my American Express card. Most of that was in California during my vacation. Then, I suddenly I am in a grocery store, buying fifty dollars’ worth of groceries, and American Express chose that time to cut off my card. Couldn’t they have alerted me beforehand or allowed the purchase, then alerted me right away? They have my phone number and my email address. They could have texted me or chosen from several methods to alert me that they thought that this was a fraudulent charge. Instead, they chose to embarrass me, their customer, and they didn’t manage my expectations. My expectations were that I would slide that card and it would work. Let’s get to the moral of this story. That was a couple of months ago, and I have since moved about ninety percent of my purchases that I used to make on American Express over to Visa.
Visa, by the way, since seeing this increased business from me was very proactive. They called me and said, “Hey, we think there is some fraudulent activity from the last few days. Can you verify these charges?” They were all mine, but they were out of line from what I typically did with my Visa card. I almost never charged on my Visa before that. I almost always used my American Express. They have now lost much of my business. I know they are not going to miss it, but if you multiply that exponentially across all of the people who carry an American Express card, it is significant. This was a bad customer experience. Previously, that was what I had liked about American Express. Everything had been a great customer experience up to that point.