In the past I have written about the importance of a human resource (HR) philosophy that focuses on communication and expectation. This type of HR philosophy is centered around the relationship between the employer and keeping a satisfied employee. This same type of relationship philosophy is important to have for a business and it’s customers. Having a satisfied customer is essential for any business. The customer experience sets a business apart and is a determining factor in its long-term success.
The process of creating a great customer experience starts with understanding the individual customer’s buying journey. Every interaction a company has with a customer is an opportunity to not only create a great experience, but also to collect and use data to develop an ongoing strategy for strengthening their customer relationships. A company’s focus should always be on providing a top-notch customer experience and building long-term relationships.
The rule of expectation is one that often goes unnoticed, but can make a big difference in customer satisfaction. Over the long run, people have a strong tendency to rise or fall to the level of our and their own expectations of their performance. Do you express your expectations to your customer or do you keep them to yourself? By establishing a clear set of customer expectations from the start, companies can ensure that their customers are satisfied. Businesses need to remember is to stick to the expectations that are set. If these expectations are not set clearly, customers may attempt to make demands that could be unreasonable.
By establishing clear customer expectations from the outset, companies can meet and exceed customer expectations, leading to strong, lasting relationships. Customers have certain expectations when it comes to their shopping experience, and it’s important for businesses to define clear expectations from the start. This ensures that both the company and the customer are accountable and working towards a common goal. It also helps avoid any misunderstandings or unreasonable demands. Even one-time customers are developing a relationship with a company. There are expectations that both sides need to meet in order for transactions and partnerships to be properly executed.
Here are some thoughts to ensure customer satisfaction.
- Adopt the customer’s persona. Too often businesses use language and processes that focus on the company rather than their customers. Too often, businesses use language and processes that focus on the company rather than the customer. To truly understand what it’s like to be a potential customer, businesses should “become” the customer. This means thinking about the customer’s journey, what outcome they are looking for, and how they want to be treated. How about truly thinking through what it is like to be a potential customer looking for a product or solution in their space? From the customers’ perspective, they don’t get “acquired” — they shop or look for possible products or services that best meet their needs. They do research, talk to peers and compare the competitors on review sites. Consider their perspective and use language that resonates with them.
- Quality is a major factor in the customer experience and must be a top priority for any business. Customers want to know that they are getting the best possible product or service for their money. To ensure customer satisfaction, businesses must make sure their products are of the highest quality and that the customer is aware of this. Providing a warranty or satisfaction guarantee is a great way to show customers that the business stands behind its products.
- Good customer service is one of the most important expectations customers have. From the moment they interact with a company, customers should feel appreciated and understood. This means providing friendly, timely, and accurate customer service that caters to their individual needs. If a business wants to maintain a positive customer relationship, it must establish a customer service system that allows customers to reach out and have their issues resolved quickly and efficiently.
- Once a customer has made a purchase, it’s important to respect their varying needs. This may vary based on the type of customer and where they are on their customer journey. Understanding these needs and providing the appropriate level of support can go a long way in ensuring customer satisfaction.
- Getting and implementing customer feedback is an important aspect of any customer service strategy. This feedback can be collected through various channels such as focus groups, surveys, website feedback forms, social media data, and online review sites. Hearing directly from customers is the easiest way to understand their experience and identify areas for improvement.
- A common expectation is the delivery time required for companies to ship their products to a customer’s doorstep. If a company doesn’t provide an estimate to the customers at the time of purchase, they’ll come up with their own expectations. Their prediction might be significantly faster than what the business is capable of achieving. Knowing this, companies can maintain customer expectations by anticipating the needs that may arise. When someone buys something online, a business can typically assume they want their purchases completed and shipped as soon as possible. Companies should be ready to address possible delays due to common errors such as payment problems and address mix-ups. Customers expect their orders will arrive as scheduled.
- When customer relationships come to mind, it’s often assumed that the internal sales, support and service employees are responsible for making them great. While it may be true that these teams spend the most time with customers, it should never fall solely on their shoulders to ensure solid relationships. Customer relationships are everyone’s responsibility. For an organization to live up to the standard of being truly customer-centric, it has to be so across each and every department and team. Sales, accounting, marketing, operations, support, product — everyone should be able to answer, “What is the company’s definition of an ideal customer experience?” relative to their role, and this means everyone needs to be working from the same aligned data. Be sure everyone has the tools to do this. Does the product offering knowledge training/coaching need to be improved? For example, does the customer relationship management software give a unified view of the customer so that the organization can provide informed, consistent service at all touch points?
- Customers love to see consistency in the brands they shop. Knowing exactly what you’re getting out of a company makes it easier to develop a long-term relationship with them.
- Perhaps the greatest reason for a business to set expectations is so that they can exceed them. A company should aim for high expectations, but keeping them reasonable means the business can go above and beyond from time to time. A company can’t feasibly exceed expectations for every single customer. This can be taxing financially, emotionally, and physically, depending on your industry. However, it’s nice to know that if the business needs to appease a customer or land a major client, the business has the capability to push them to their limit when deemed necessary.
In conclusion, mastering customer expectations is crucial for creating a positive customer experience and establishing strong, long-lasting customer relationships. By establishing these expectations upfront, companies can meet and exceed customer expectations, strengthening customer loyalty and trust. Businesses must focus on quality, customer service, and regular customer feedback to succeed in today’s competitive market.
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