Managing Expectations: Create a Strong Customer Experience to Attract and Retain Business
… retaining as well. The experience you create is your only mechanism for this.
How to Overcome – Automate, Optimize, Define
- Automate: Leaning on tools you have to help foster the delivery of your customer’s experience with you is always a good option and is often the first answer from most when it comes to questions about scalability, but most times isn’t an immediately viable option for all businesses. Automating processes (and therefore experience) can come with a very heavy up-front cost and very heavy implementation strain (physically and emotionally), especially if what you do is specialized. There are a number of off-the-rack software programs out there to assist with this, many of which help immensely, but when considering these, make a slow decision. Vet it completely and determine if you have the personnel/time to manage the software and what the return on investment is going to be, because most often you’ll find yourself journeying down a rabbit hole. Determine where your company is going and find a solution that will grow with you and be flexible enough to change with you and your customers’ needs. If you don’t, it will have the opposite effect and further burden your customer’s experience.
- Optimize: You ever go to your favorite take-out restaurant and open their menu only to see a vast sea of choices? How many have you tried? I would venture a guess that even though you have all of those choices in what you’re going to eat, you probably stick with the same sweet and sour chicken that you always get. The restaurant is good at that dish. Your approach to your customer should be no different. Don’t overwhelm them and promise them all of the things you do at a mediocre level. Find something that you do well and dominate. By taking a focused approach, your ability to set expectations grows exponentially, creating a good experience, which encourages customers to come back (this is crucial for the new generation of customer … more to come on this). Not to worry, though, if your customer needs a service that you don’t provide, luckily, we all reside in the channel and have many partnerships to mutually benefit our businesses. Go team!
- Define: If you take nothing else away from this blog post, take this word: define. Expectation revolves around this. It is important to have defined processes and protocols that everyone, including your customers, can cadence to; something that everyone can actually point to in order to maintain reasonable accountability from all parties. Define everything: job descriptions, process, SLAs, exceptions, goals, experiences, etc. Doing this also keeps you from falling into the “fractured information” habit (i.e., not telling them everything). When you start to define things, you start to see where the gaps lie in your business and in your interactions with your customers. Set the expectation, the whole expectation, and nothing but the expectation — not just the one that is convenient at the time.
Your customers (and I) implore you: heed the advice of Shakespeare and not only use this to improve what you can execute on for your customers, but turn this into a revenue objective for your company.
Expect expectation. Nothing more, nothing less.
Bryan Reynolds is director of sales operations for TBI, where he leads an organization of more than 75 individuals who provide TBI’s partner community with back-office support ranging from quoting and solution design to implementation advocacy and project management. Follow Bryan on LinkedIn or @TBImasteragent on Twitter.