Your sales team has just met its targets. There is jubilation across the office as a lot of new customers have been acquired. In case the orders exceed capacity, you invest in more resources to meet orders and revise targets for the team. But in all this excitement, make sure you don’t forget to meet the customer expectations of service.
What are Customer Expectations?
To understand a proper definition of customer expectations, try and go over your marketing pitch. You must have promised something to your customer. Your product or service must have been pitched, as one that had certain characteristics which made it attractive to a customer. Now, it is important to realize that any marketing activity or sales pitch that you made to a customer raises their expectations. The hype or buzz that is created from a sales campaign, makes a customer feel like they have finally found a company that understands their requirements. The ‘customer expectation’, is basically their faith in a particular company, because it provides the most suitable product. Post the sale, the customer expects the same level of engagement and interest on part of the company.
Post Sales Organization in the context of Customer Expectations
The post sales activities are not seen as important or crucial in companies. Most companies are focused on growth and closing files. Building a long-term dialogue with an existing customer gets neglected during this process.
Establishing a good post-sales dialogue can be seen as an opportunity for a company to be different from its competition. It is critical because customer expectations are heightened during the sales process, and meeting these expectations will ensure that existing customers will return to the company.
The Preference for the New
New orders, new customers, and new products are what most companies are chasing after. The most rewarded employees and salesmen are those who ‘bring in more clients/customers’.
There is a story about a trader in a leading Wall Street Firm. The trader closed many deals and walked around with great confidence. He was a star performer and was treated favorably by upper management. One day he had a bit of a tiff with a customer support executive in the firm. He told the executive, “Don’t be rude to me, I get the business that pays your salary”. Many months later the trader’s performance declined and he was let go. The customer support executive looked at him smugly, as he walked out of the door.
The customer support executive was involved in liaising with clients and managing the customer expectations. Though his job was not glamorous, he performed a vital function for the firm.
Important Factors in Managing Customer Expectations
Here are some important factors to consider when planning a strategy to meet customer expectations:
Complaint Resolution as a part of meeting Customer Expectations and Perception
Customer complaints are treated as a necessary evil by companies. There is an apathetic attitude to customers who seem to have too many issues. But, an important point to consider is that very few customers actually bother to complain. Most will mentally write off the company and will never bother to deal with it in future.
The complaining customers should be seen as an opportunity. They still have faith in the company and are attempting to establish a dialogue. If their complaints are resolved satisfactorily, it could mean the establishment of a long relationship based on meeting the customer expectations.
Managing Customer Expectations Through Feedback:
Imagine a customer calling your call center and telling them a wonderful way to improve your product or service. The call center operator would most likely not be receptive to such an idea, as their main focus is to ‘close complaints’. In most companies, there is no formal workflow to implement suggestions and feedback from customers. The customer senses that the feedback will not really matter and stops bothering to send any.
A customer-centric business will take a great interest in customer feedback. It will be adaptable and receptive and strive to implement such feedback. Ideally, the company should find ways to implement the customer’s feedback and let the customer know how they implemented it. This will ensure they meet and go beyond the customer expectations.
Meeting Customer Expectations Through Rewards:
Retaining customers is one of the key factors in the growth and success of a business. It costs way more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. This is why it is essential to meet customer expectations by rewarding them in case of a long association. They can be great brand ambassadors and can refer a company to their contacts. Some simple examples of customer rewards are:
1. Discounts on products and services as a result of an accrual of loyalty points.
2. Wishes on important events like birthdays and anniversaries.
3. Personalized loyalty card with some benefits.
Conclusion: Customer Expectations
Customer Expectations are linked to brand building, customer retention, and increasing customer referrals. In the advent of the digital age where customer reviews greatly influence buying decisions, it is more important than ever to meet customer expectations.