• Bill Leinweber

  • About Bill Leinweber

    Bill Leinweber's mission is to help businesses and organizations grow by combining efficient processes with great customer and employee experience.

    Bill is the Chief Experience Officer & Owner of Landmark Experience LLC, a consultancy, where he loves to help business leaders walk in their customers' shoes and devise memorable and meaningful experiences for both customers, guests, visitors, employees and business partners. After all, have you ever heard of customer loyalty and business growth without GREAT customer experience?

    Bill's 30 year career spans retail and office products distribution operations in both small, family-owned and global mega-businesses. He has managed customer service operations, sales support, customer on-boarding and business intelligence teams while also serving as an internal consultant and subject matter expert. Bill has helped his past employers improve their customer engagement processes and achieve their goals of customer experience excellence and loyalty.

    Bill loves to talk and speak about customer experience as well, so don't be afraid to ask!

    Bill Leinweber
    Landmark Experience

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What’s Your Definition of Expectations?

The other day I was ironing a shirt. The label in the collar read “Easy Care.” So that got me thinking about expectations and meanings, as in “that depends on what you mean by ‘Easy Care.'”

I’ve been asked a lot lately about how to properly set customer expectations, a concept that is so important in managing a great customer experience. Yet, customer disappointments continue to plague businesses.

So how do you best set expectations with customers and avoid disappointments? Well first, don’t call a shirt “Easy Care” when it clearly requires ironing out of the dryer! My definition of Easy Care does not include an ironing board. That said, here are a few tips on the subject:

1) Deliver the News Up Front
People seem to be afraid to set parameters up front, especially if they feel they can’t deliver on a particular requirement exactly as requested. It is much better to set the expectations at the beginning and avoid disappointment later. Your customer will appreciate the honesty and your ability to accurately forecast what you can deliver and when. If the customer asks for the Sun, Moon and Stars and you can provide only the Sun and Moon, say so. Some folks might call this “under promise and over deliver” but I disagree. Accurately promise and then do what you said you would do, or more.

2) Be Clear About Time
Customers will fill in the blanks, so don’t leave any. If the shirt says “Easy Care,” make sure it’s a no-iron shirt! Don’t say, “I’ll get back to you next week.” Instead, say “I’ll get back to you on Wednesday” or “no later than next Friday.” Be specific, then confirm the time frame is acceptable to your customer. Next week has both a Monday and a Friday and there’s a world of difference between the two. Be specific so the expectations are aligned with both parties.

3) Notify Customers Immediately of Any Service Challenges
If you can’t meet a deadline or need more time, notify your customer immediately. Customers appreciate being kept informed rather than left to wonder. A call saying, “I’m still working on your question/issue and I expect to have resolution by Friday” goes a long way.

4) Use Technology to Help Set Expectations
If you’re frequently on the road or out of the office, use your voice mail and email auto-responder to set the expectation on when the customer will hear back from you. “Thanks for calling. Please leave your detailed message. I return calls daily at ten, two and four.”

5) Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everyone
It’s tempting to try to accept every opportunity to make a sale and not let any opportunity slip away. However, that approach beckons a very broad spectrum of customer expectations and increases the chances for inconsistency and potential disappointment. Focus on a target market where you can most consistently meet customer expectations. To some degree, standardize processes and minimize exceptions.

2 Responses

  1. You sir, have hit the nail right on the head. It is amazing though how many businesses do not set any kind of customer expectations at all.

    When there are is a lack of set expectations, customers tend to set their own which can often be problematic for the business as they may not be able to meet those expectations.

    • Thanks for the great comments, Charles. Customers will set their own expectations based on “their world,” not ours. So setting clear expectations is critical to avoiding customer disappointment. Seems so simple, yet many organizations big and small seem to miss this.

      Best regards,
      Bill Leinweber

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