As in previous entries, here I will be exploring one of our Customer Service Fundamentals:
Understand, Manage, and Where Possible, Exceed Expectations
Managing expectations can really only happen when they are first understood. The simplest way to do this is to discuss, ask and then listen. Amazing how often this simple step is missed.
After expectations are properly understood they need to be managed. Keeping clear, open communications channels open is the absolute best way of doing so. We have a lot of methods that we use to manage expectations, including, where appropriate
- creating detailed specifications
- sending out daily status emails
- generating clear acceptance criteria
- maintaining an online issue log
When things are going smoothly, it can be relatively easy to manage expectations. When things aren't going well, that's where many companies fall apart.
Think about the time you're in a restaurant and your meal comes 20 or 30 minutes late. If your waiter tells you there's been a problem, perhaps offers an appetizer or cocktail on the house, and lets you know the status, a sour situation can be turned around pretty easily.
If, however, they don't acknowledge the situation (or, perhaps even worse, aren't aware of it), a bad situation can escalate into something much worse - turning someone into a "Detractor" instead of a "Promoter." (see here for a little background).
Going from managing expectations to exceeding expectations is what takes a company from delivering good customer service to delivering world-class customer service.
Exceeding expectations is what we strive to do on an ongoing basis. Although the concepts of managing (and exceeding) expectations are quite simple that doesn't mean they are easy or always achievable. But they should always be strived for!