Managing Expectations: Create a Strong Customer Experience to Attract and Retain Business
By Bryan Reynolds, Director of Sales Operations, TBI
In Part I of this column, we talked about the poetic passage by Shakespeare that paints a vivid picture in “All’s Well That Ends Well” of the problems that arise from not setting expectations. He writes: “Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises; and oft it hits, where hope is coldest, and despair most sits.” As we dig deeper, we will examine how experience isn’t a finite target, but rather more of a gray area that is constantly evolving. There are different perspectives out there, but step 1 is realizing this.
Experience is subjective. With every new customer you encounter, they will come in with some predisposed belief of how their interaction should go with you. Phrases like “at the last place…” or “this is how it is always done…” come into play quite often. It’s important to understand that when courting new business, your first responsibility to the customer is helping them understand how you do business, what interactions they can expect, and what processes they must follow for them to have a good experience and ultimately be successful. If you don’t do this right out of the gate, the new customer will apply someone else’s expectations to your process and they will be sorely disillusioned, resulting in a lost customer and a damaged-beyond-repair relationship.
“I Don’t Know, but . . .” Sometimes the best answer is not an answer at all. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, and I would agree that it is true in some cases. When setting an expectation, you cannot just choose your own adventure and hope for the best. Simply saying “I don’t know” can have a profound effect. I know that some of you are saying “Bryan, you’re crazy. I’m not saying that to my customer.” While I can appreciate that, the bottom line is that by saying “I don’t know,” you are, indirectly, setting an expectation. The most important part of this, though, is that your statement must be followed up by “… but I will find out.” We are in a vast and ever-growing channel where there is always someone who augments your services and enhances your value. Rest assured that there is someone out there you can lean on to garner their experiences and apply it to your situation.
Newest generations of customers expect expectations. The next generation of customer (millennials and Gen Zers) are the ones paving the way for what customer experience looks like and are redefining how business interacts with them. It’s a “new dog, new tricks” world out there, but the expectation-setting schema discussed above remains the same, regardless of age. The main difference, though, is that Hell hath no fury like a millennial scorned. Now, more than ever, customer retention is necessary for growth. Gaining a new customer is far more expensive than keeping an old one. Setting proper expectations and creating a good experience are key ingredients in growing current revenue. With this coming generation, you have a very narrow window to attract new customers, which further strains your resources. That window gets even narrower for you to win those customers. Future buying decisions and the loyalty of this generation are centered around their interactions. I’m not saying that gaining “new logos” is a bad idea, quite the contrary, but focus not only on attracting, but …