Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Great Expectations

When it comes to marketing and the customer experience there are a few 'unwritten' expectations 

The customer does not expect to be bugged to death to make a decision.  You expect your customer to buy the first or second time you approach them with your proposition. Customers expect you to be an expert in your field. You expect a little time to answer a question if you are not positive of the answer.  Customers expect answers to their questions, yesterday.  You expect customers to be patient and 'wait for it'.  Customers expect you to call them back immediately.   You expect to call them when you have something to report.  Customers expect you to reduce your fees and play a few pricing games with you.  You expect the customer to pay the price.   Customers expect 5-Star service.  You hope you and your staff can deliver it.

Here are some ways you can manage those expectations.

You should control the amount of communication to the customer.  Make sure if you are calling the customer, that members of the team are not calling them with the same or similar information.  Make notes in the file or on the computer whenever you speak to the customer and make sure your team does the same thing.  Multiple calls to your client will just annoy them.

Make sure you ARE an expert in your field.  Your customer's decision to buy or use your services is going to hinge on your knowledge of your product or service.  If you need to keep up with industry standards, make sure you make time for seminars or educational opportunities that will keep you on top of your game.  If you are not, someone else will be.

The first thing you can do is to solidify your team,  Make sure every member of the team is clear of their role in managing the clients expectations.  Have a written document that everyone signs that makes it clear as glass who does what and when.  Make an internal contract of sorts with them.  Only when everyone understands the internal expectations will you be able to deliver them to your clients.  An example might be, if you promise your client an answer in a week, be sure everyone knows if that is 5 or 7 days.

After your team is on the same customer experience track, make sure you set the proper expectations with your client.  Many, many times the customer will 'hear' something entirely different than what you actually say.  Sort of like that game of telephone we played as children, everyone hears the story a little bit differently,  You might try to remedy this situation by having a written document that outlines the process for the client and the projected time-line for them.  If they have this in writing from you, chances are there will be less misunderstanding and more accountability to meet the timeline.

Make sure that when you have pricing conversations with your customers that you document those fully.  That way you and your team will be fully confident as to what was quoted to the client.  Coach your team on how to answer pricing questions, and if the client has questions that your team cannot answer, make sure they refer the customer to you and you speak to them immediately. Be sure you know your competitors pricing.  It is essential to keep customer's pricing current and written down so you can be  prepared to address any pricing differences with your customer.  Customers will try to use the pricing game against you, be prepared.  You don't have to defend your price, because you are worth your price, what is important is that your customer can deliver value for that price.

Great expectations can be managed, it just takes a commitment on your part to ensure your client have a great experience every time.

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