Setting & Exceeding Customer Expectations

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  • 0:03 Expectations with Customers
  • 0:47 Make Fair & Honest Commitments
  • 2:04 Clarify Expectations
  • 2:38 Clearly State Policies
  • 3:49 Under-Promise & Over-Deliver
  • 5:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tara Schofield
There are four key ways to set and exceed customer expectations. By following these recommendations, you can have loyal, happy clients who feel your business exceeds their expectations every time.

Expectations with Customers

In a time when customers have become accustomed to self-service, low contact, and little interaction from most retailers, the need to set clear expectations with customers is more important than ever. Companies that clearly communicate their policies are miles ahead in establishing expectations with their clients. Likewise, understanding customers' perspectives is an important aspect of being able to meet their expectations. Businesses that understand how to set and exceed customer expectations create loyal, satisfied customers.

Now that we know it is important that set and exceed customer expectations, how do we do it? There are four basic keys to managing and surpassing customer expectations. Let's take a look at those four steps with an example.

Make Fair & Honest Commitments

You manage a specialty store that throws theme parties for children. Your business is really popular, and you seem to book one or two more birthday parties from each event you host. You love your business - making kids' dreams come true.

As part of your commitment to your customers, you're very careful to not double book or over-extend your schedule. Several times you've had clients offer to pay twice as much if you'll bump a party and schedule their child's party at the last minute. However, you always stand firm in your first-come-first-served policy. Even when the mayor's wife begged, you honored your commitments.

Some business managers think that it is okay to make certain people happy while breaking their commitments to other clients. One of the best business practices is to treat customers fairly, honor your commitments, and be honest. If you make a comment and your customers count on you, follow through and honor your word. Breaking your own rules or commitments will only create upset customers.

Some owners and managers who over-promise to their clients and either can't fulfill the promise or don't intend to keep their commitment. Nothing makes customers angry faster than being told something before they made a purchase and finding out later that they were lied to. Regardless of the intent, if a customer is promised something, the company needs to honor that promise.

Clarify Expectations

Setting clear expectations with customers is also vital. Clients often become upset because they had unrealistic expectations or there were promises made that were not clear.

When you book a birthday party with a child's parent, one of your steps is to clarify what the parent can expect. You discuss the party details, including date, time, and number of guests. You walk through the steps to ensure that your client has realistic expectations and isn't planning on something you don't provide. By clarifying expectations up front, your clients can have the party they planned without unnecessary disappointments.

Clearly State Policies

Along with clarifying expectations ahead of time, having clear policies helps set the rules your clients can expect both you and them to follow. Many companies post their basic policies where customers can easily see them. For instance, many businesses have a sign that explains their return policy. Because return policies can vary greatly between different businesses, having them posted is important, especially if a customer is trying to make an unfair return. The customer may have used the product and are returning it because he doesn't want to pay for it, or maybe he broke the item and is trying to take it back to the store. Clothing and electronic stores are noted for having specific return policies to ensure they're not taken advantage of. Even with stated policies, some customers will disregard the terms of purchase. Ensuring terms are posted helps to set the expectations for customers and gives the employees a basis for enforcing the policies.

In the case of your business, you require that a $100 deposit be made when the party is scheduled. The money will not be returned if the client decides to cancel within ten days of the party. This policy is written in clear terms in the contract that the client signs when scheduling the party.

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