Write a note on Managing ‘Customer Expectations’.
Ans. Customers expect firms to meet their requirements; they do not expect miracles, but basic performance and service delivery. Managing customer expectations is not always easy. Knowing the customers well and what is important to them can stop a firm going down the assumption path and disappointing the customers. For e.g. customers expect the following:
- Customer want service to be delivered as promised.
- Honoring promises (Reliable service)
- “Memorable experience”
Service organizations can manage customer expectations professionally and competently by managing the following things:
1. Realistic promises: Be practical and realistic as something will go wrong at some time. Nobody can be perfect. Setting unrealistic service standards is only setting up the company for failure. False, misleading or glorified promises can disappoint and hurt the customer. Also, companies should avoid setting standards that are so high that it itself cannot manage to fulfill. What companies are required to do is stick to basic, honest and truthful promises which are reasonable and rational
2. Performing as promised: Check from time to time that the customer’s expectations are still being met or exceeded or below the adequate service level. Make sure all employees and other people in the supply chain, knows what the customer service standards are. If the company fails to perform as promised, they lose credibility in the minds of the customer. Customers expect the services providers to have the ability to perform the desired service dependably, accurately and consistently. Testing methods, training employees, customer feedback mechanisms and strong leadership are some tools that help companies perform what they have promised.
3. Communication: Companies should be specific about communication, so the customer knows what to expect. Communication should be two-way, so companies should find out what expectations the customers have so they do not have to guess or assume. Any vague or unclear areas would lead to fall of service level. For this purpose, companies should train representatives, have contact centres, build feedback and follow up processes etc
4. Responsiveness: The customers appreciate the willingness of services providers to provide the services promptly and efficiently. To be responsive to customers means help them keeping informed, buying and post buying. too.
5. Competition: Companies should be aware of industry standards and best practices. Compare their business with the competitors. Companies can get someone to test the competitor’s customer service to get a clearer picture and judge their own performance. Managing customer expectations are important in terms of customer perceptions and satisfaction. Therefore, special attention should be given to see long term and consistent positive results.