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5 Keys to Setting and Meeting Customer Expectations

5 Keys to Setting and Meeting Customer Expectations

Setting and meeting customer expectations is a never-ending process and can be quite the balancing act. Striving to maintain positive relationships with clients results in a more satisfying work environment and greater level of output. Due to advances in technology, customers expect more than ever before, and rightly so. All businesses start out setting the bar high, but consistently meeting customer expectations hinges on a wide variety of shifting factors. If the key points detailed below fall to the wayside, a business will find its reputation on the line.

Uphold Honesty and Consistency Across Media Channels

In order to deliver an authentic message, a business must establish goals that fit its service or product. Be as clear and direct as possible in describing what is being offered and in language that focuses on positivity and empathy. Create word scenarios that empower customers regardless of the context used to deliver the message.

Check in regularly with the marketing department to make sure the advertising being done sets a unified front across television, brochures, and social media. The tone maintained with customers must be constantly recalibrated, and always keep in mind customers who post on social media expect to receive a response in that channel. This is something that wasn’t necessarily the case years ago.

Exceed Expectations by Anticipating Needs

Mediocrity isn’t memorable, so steer clear of it. Rather, err on the side of going above and beyond to better ensure that setting and meeting customer expectations is in process. Always focus on anticipating customers’ needs. The old saying to under-promise and over-deliver is a wise path to follow. That doesn’t mean to aim low. Rather, aim high, but also be able to go one step further. The “wow factor” is memorable.

For example, the company Lange-Lift, with its material handling equipment, posts videos of its sizable hydraulic lift equipment on its YouTube channel. This tactic works to exceed customer expectations by going beyond an already impressive product manual. By supplying videos of specialized equipment not readily available, they are excelling in anticipating their customers’ needs. This approach enables them to meet their promise of creating value with “products that lift the world” by reaching potential customers around the globe.

Maintain Constant Communication

Availability is key. While 24/7 may not always be possible when it comes to live feedback, it is important to set regular times when clients or customers can contact you. When running a small business, it’s not feasible to be available for immediate responses in the middle of the night, but do make sure to have a contact form readily available on the business website. Make responding to such messages a priority at least twice a day.

Implement a marketing strategy that follows a regular schedule for contacting customers across various channels as well. Devise a call to action that will tempt loyal customers to sign up for the company newsletter, so they can receive notifications on special deals and discounts. Whether daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, make sure to pick a schedule and stick with it. Test those communication campaigns as well to find what works best for various segments of your customer email list.

Offer Personalization and Numerous Options

Things like location and specific interests can be used to tailor content to a multitude of customer demographics. This is a powerful area to explore when it comes to setting and meeting customer expectations. Experiment with different subject lines for newsletters by running A/B testing, try various titles for blog posts and social media previews, and use customer personas and associated data points to further appeal to fitting specifics.

Research shows the majority of customers still prefer person-to-person interaction, so aim to make phone assistance a possibility or face-to-face interaction a reality when at all possible. However, chat assistance via messages works for many, as does email, or online communities.

Take Customer Feedback Patterns Seriously

Consistent monitoring of various channels, such as Facebook, Amazon Reviews, phone calls, and emails can provide a fuller picture of whether the expectations being set are taking hold. Are new product ads delivering the right impression? If customers seem disappointed in one or more ways, what can be done to better align an advertising campaign with customer expectations?

When appropriate, follow up and seek additional feedback. It’s important to also not fall into the trap of accepting a broken process as an excuse for not being able to meet an expectation. If something can’t be fixed, an agent should be able to tell a customer why that is, rather than just saying that is the way a particular quirk with a product or service has always been.

All businesses need to set goals that are revisited on a consistent basis to ensure they are not setting the wrong client expectations. Clients will be impressed by promises that can be kept, and disappointed by promises that are broken. Lifelong customer loyalty is the ultimate goal, and one that a business can achieve by taking pains when it comes to setting and meeting customer expectations.

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by Sarah Saker // Sarah Saker is a business coach and freelance writer that specializes in helping SMBs setup processes for customer support and predictable growth. When not writing or coaching, Sarah can be found on her (small, but growing!) family farm. Connect with Sarah on for coaching or writing help.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.