Set the Stage for Success: Tips for Managing Client Expectations
Buddha said something like, expectation is at the root of all suffering. Whether you subscribe to that theory or not, you can likely agree that client or customer expectations can set the stage for a terrible business review. You see, excellent service doesn’t matter if they expected pizza at your Italian restaurant and it wasn’t there.
Since most customer expectations can be managed before they become issues, it’s wise to ensure everyone is focused on the same thing and the same outcomes. Here’s how you can make that happen.
Be Upfront About Policy or Inabilities
If you have a stringent return policy or don’t allow for substitutions, be upfront about that. Don’t hide it in small print. Make sure if someone is purchasing something that cannot be returned it is communicated in writing and orally. Also, ensure that your customer-facing employees understand the policy and why it’s in place. If they don’t, and a customer complains, they may very well jump on the complaint bandwagon and that’s bad for everyone.
This applies to inabilities as well. Several months ago, romaine lettuce was unavailable due to a recall. This severely impacted restaurants that serve Caesar salads. Unfortunately, many customers who knew about the recall didn’t think about that favorite salad. If you’re unable to deliver on something you normally do, don’t wait for someone to ask for it. Tell them ahead of time so you can manage their expectations before it becomes a major disappointment.
Better yet, use a fun, interactive survey. For instance, in your waiting room or lobby, use emoji magnets or paper faces to vote on how well they think you’re doing.
It doesn’t mean you can’t have processes in place. It just means you have to empower your staff to differentiate between when the right time to set customer expectations is from the time to blow those expectations out of the water.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.