How to manage customer expectations?
Let's clarify the term customer expectations. In short, customer expectations mean providing relevant services to satisfy the needs of consumers on a long-term basis.
The full story is about:
- Providing the services on the agreement terms and conditions;
- Ensuring the agreed customer experience;
- Providing cutting-edge customer service assistance, meeting and exceeding customer expectations
- Building goodwill by delivering at the bottom line – the agreed services. And then providing incentives to keep consumers.
Easy to make statements, yet to manage customer expectations and ensure excellent customer service, there are obstacles for call center managers. Read on.
Factors that help to manage customer expectations in the right direction
Let's show you the big picture and then dive into specifics. Your consumers somehow discover that your company is the right solution for their needs. They've come to a conclusion based on your advertisement, word of mouth, website info, previous successes, etc.
Thus, the particular group of consumers is highly interested in your services and agrees upon the price, terms, and conditions.
The question is: what does it mean to exceed customer expectations? And whether your company is ready to deliver the promise, view the service through the eyes of consumers, and able to fulfill every single commitment. And here's where to manage customer expectations, you need to work hard.
That's where 80% of companies fail to deliver their promise. Of course, even small promises are valuable for all people. Because they agreed to keep the business with your company only after your statements. But why do so many companies fail to meet the bottom line, not talking about the circumstances when they exceed customer expectations?
The answer may surprise you. Because they are unaware of their own capabilities to satisfy or exceed customer expectations.
As a result, the consequences of providing lousy services and failing consumers' expectations – trigger negativity. And this triggers only a shortage of your consumer base and revenue.
The solution is quite simple: To satisfy customer expectations from customer service, as a manager, you must know exactly what your goods or services are all about. Study your own advertisements, websites, goods, and services to understand exactly what you give away for money to your consumers.
Most importantly, you must study your customers as well as your product to understand what is in their heads. And based on that knowledge create scripts for your customer service agents. To successfully sustain and manage customer expectations, there's work to be done first. But there's the option not only to exceed customer expectations.
Once you'll do your homework, it will be easy to guide your agents and exceed customer expectations
Let's say you are an internet provider that has a customer base of 80% that uses wired internet with a speed of 100 Mb/s. And in case the speed is below 100 Mb/s, you need a solution to restore the speed of the internet up to 100 Mb/s.
Of course, even if that's a short-period situation, you must have the solution and explanation of exactly why the speed is below the previously agreed. Thus, all customers tolerate only honest business relationships and disagree upon anything else.
Here’s another example. Let's presume your product doesn't meet or exceed customer expectations, which was reflected in the technical documentation, contract, advertisement, website, etc. In this case, there's the manager's responsibility of knowing about the quality of the product and all of the sensitive specs.
Yes, managers could be in this moment – at the trap. Because they presume that everything is under their control, while the real situation reflects another story.
First things first. Everything is about the homework on the manager's side. Then managers inform their staff about what exactly they need to say in order to negotiate with potential customers successfully.
Thus, satisfying growing customer expectations from customer service is about working on the data, negotiating with customer service agents, listening to recordings, and many more, which you'll discover below.
Exceed customer expectations by dealing with the caller's frustration
When consumers are not quite well-read, the thing understands the company's services - they could accidentally or directly strive for illegal demands. That includes, for instance, the claim about the refund when there's no option for such a money return.
Or consumers demand the additional services for free, while there's a strict company policy about the terms and conditions on providing additional services for a fee. You might think right now that it's a problem of the consumer not knowing about terms and conditions. Well, you are wrong. Why?
Because you need consumers, and in the vast majority of cases, these misunderstandings are triggered by the gray areas in the contracts, advertisements, technical documentation, etc. Perhaps that's the fault of the manufacturer – the wrong info in the technical materials attached to products.
While your job as a head of a call center is to know what exactly in these materials appeals to a customer in a way he or she could read and understand everything without gray areas.
It's the responsibility of the company that delivers services to notify in advance about the most critical and frequently asked questions. By the way, you'll achieve credit from customers because you were transparent and clear with them.
There's another way to exceed customer expectations by slashing the misunderstanding
Because your job is to keep consumers and not leave them with a mood of distrust and anger, it will consequently harm your bank account, and that's why this is not in your best interest.
There's one of the surest ways to slash your misunderstanding and meet customer expectations. And here it is. As a manager, your homework must consist of studying and changing "gray areas" of the company's services and cases when you solve misunderstandings from consumers.
Once identified, you are easily capable of reflecting this in your advertisement, website, etc. At the bottom line, you need the blueprint for pivoting in negotiations with customers.
Thus to manage customer expectations properly, you must collect the data on all these three cases listed above to achieve the big picture. The data about these cases has a benefit that pulls out all other research regarding customer expectations. This way furnishes you with real, clear-headed info about what is happening between the business relationships of customers and the company.
Companies that neglect by collecting the data listed above – are doomed to continue to commit mistakes regarding customer expectations due to the lack of information.
The proven ways to improve and manage customer expectations
Before you'll make the decision to provide the extra of your services, you must consider two important issues:
1) Whether your additional efforts will pay off? Thus if you only give away for free your efforts, you might find yourself in a difficult position due to low ROI. Plus, you might have a customer service representative make a tough job and want an additional salary for it. So consider this.
2) You must question yourself about whether your service
substantially improves the business relationships between your company, and will be noticed and appreciated by consumers. Or this additional effort wouldn't be noticed by the vast majority of consumers and have a vague effect overall.
Thus ask these two questions before you'll become serious about providing additional efforts on expectations. Based on the two issues listed above it's easy to build a solid ground to exceed customer expectations.
Think of each feedback to use as a guideline for improvement
It's an obvious situation when consumers are not welcome to provide you with feedback on services. The reason why could be the lousy services on your company's side and the negativity. Once the consumers feel offended there's no way to ask them for something.
Even for a brief conversation regarding the goods and services. People appreciate their time and are not willing to waste it on a company, in which they've lost trust. Further, asking for feedback – is to ask for action, and requires a small effort from the customer's side.
Of course, even satisfied consumers rarely want to ask long questions and proceed through the "research circles". But here's the solution:
- When you strive to exceed customer expectations in the future, ask a brief and short question. For instance:
- Do we meet your expectations? (Tell us what you like most. Or how we could meet your expectations?);
- What would you like to see in our goods and services? (Some improvement or additional features);
- Do you think the company is fair to you? (That's an intimate question but it could be fairly easy to discover a lot of real thoughts of a customer about a company).
Who do you think is responsible for the current situation?
By the way, to ensure the agent's responsibility and exceed customer expectations, visit the guide on the effective call center agent. It's ultra-critical to ensure each agent – knows what to say.
Because one of the most irritating situations for consumers regarding call centers around the globe is to experience vague answers from each customer service representative on the critically-important issues consumers.
In these phone conversations, consumers feel their hopeless position when they are unable to achieve the desired result via phone. They start to think they need to visit the office, waste a lot of time and consequently money, to personally address you.
And that's a bad situation because everything is negotiable via phone without the necessity to waste time for both the company and the customer. Here are a few real examples of how the responsibility of the agent – matters.
Consumers call a company's office to find out the issue regarding the delivery.
Consumer: "Good day, my name is Michael Stevenson, could you tell me when my delivery will reach me? My account number is 312-33-112".
Agent: "Good day Mr. Stivenson, unfortunately, I cannot tell you when exactly you'll achieve your services. Because we don't have data about this right now".
As you see, that's the wrong answer from the agent's side because he did not tell anything about the critically important issue and stagnated the situation.
Moreover, the agent is not even able to explain the situation, tell the solution, or even give a prompt call back once the situation is clear. And that's how the vast majority of call center agents behave around the globe, in both private and government call centers.
The trouble is: If the agent will not inform at what time this kind of data would be at their fingertips – that would trigger a substantial loss of mood trust.
The solution: The agent needs to give a callback if there's no answer to the question. Or during the call, put the consumer on hold to the customer service department or the delivery team to find out the details.
Here are a few examples:
Consumer: "Good day, this is Jessica. My ID number is 332-116-233. I ordered the air-conditioner from you a short time ago. But there's some trouble, and I'm waiting for the service worker. Could you tell me when they will arrive to address my issue?"
Agent: "Good day, Jessica. I see your request for the assistant, but I cannot tell you when exactly you will achieve your service".
The trouble: Once again there's the critical issue from a consumer but the vague response from an agent. And these kinds of answers are nearly 80% of the call centers around the globe.
The trouble with these answers is not only regarding the type of answers but mostly because agents try to avoid the responsibility regarding the consumer's issues. And there's a solution to improve customer service experience.
The solution: As in the first case listed above, the agent must be personally interested in the case to contact the teams or manager to find the solution. Or consumers will quickly feel that they are left behind.
The bonus example
Consumer: Good day, please tell me when my container with the goods will be delivered. It's supposed to be at 11:00 AM Eastern Time. Agent: Unfortunately, your container hasn't been delivered until 11:00 AM."
The trouble: Did you notice? That's the passive voice, and consumers instantaneously identify that as the attempt to escape the responsibility on the agent's side.
The trouble with the passive voice is that all consumers feel how agents are trying to avoid further conversations.
The solution: Use the active voice instead of the passive voice. In this case, an agent could say: "Your delivery is delayed, and I will try to find out the details. Could I give you a callback in 10 minutes?". That way of the negotiations would be your marketing strategies that constantly solve the arising inquiries.
Easy, right? The huge benefit is the positive effect on the customer's side. Not the complete frustration as it was with the use of the passive voice.
It's easier to exceed client expectations if you do this routine as a manager
All callers have their own bottom line and broad call center expectations. To ensure top-notch service and reach appreciation from the caller's side, you need to constantly listen to recordings of conversations between agents and consumers. It is the must-have procedure that managers and agents must proceed with at least one time per week.
This period is enough to keep the hand on the pulse regarding customer expectations and always understand the difficult and occasional issues coming from consumers.
The first and foremost benefit is that you quickly identify your mistakes in conversations. For the starting call centers, it's better to listen to all the recordings they can. Managers of these call centers make a lot of mistakes. And in some cases, they need to fix all of their mistakes – promptly.
For sustainable revenue and good experience – also require timely listings of the records because they commit mistakes once in a while. To maintain the top level of service frequent checking of the boxes of the audio recordings with customers is extremely important.
What exactly do you need to do to change your negotiation to meet growing expectations from customer service?
What you need is to collect data about successful conversations, when the goal is met. And they collect data from various unsuccessful conversations. Listen to these audio recordings and find out where the agent succeeded in those good conversations and how they failed, in those conversations that proved to be vague.
Everything in the world is negotiable
There are none of the companies in the world that have never failed. But the difference between the top companies and outsiders in a small, mid-size, and enterprise-like niche is this. Top-notch companies quickly fix their failures. While the large majority of the outsiders – vaguely address their negative impact on consumers.
If you wonder whether your consumers wait for excuses or not – no they don't. But they are extremely open to your solution on the given issue regarding their needs.
Thus, you never try to find an excuse for previous experiences. Moreover, the positive outcome of this action. On the contrary, you need to find a solution that will provide them with the real-workable and relevant action.
And lastly, the faster you will fix the mistake – the better for you and your customer. Because most of the companies are weak in the delivery of the timely issue. And the longer they are providing even the relevant issue – the more frustration and aggravation the consumers.
Treat consumers like the ones listed below if you want strong business relationships
One of the surest ways to keep your consumer closer to your company is to constantly treat them as decent people. That's why you'd name their first name but not overdue by keeping the conversation as you would have it in a personal.
Walk the extra mile when consumers need your assistance on the product or service by explaining step-by-step how to reach the desired result.
An existing customer is better than a new one
There is a spread opinion around the world that you must strive to achieve potential customers over and over again. But they are rarely talking about keeping the customers after they've been acquired.
Failure to do so results in an enormous revenue shrinkage and loss of an existing customer base. And most companies keep trying over and over to achieve more consumers without taking care of their current ones.
On the contrary, successful companies know this secret that sounds as follows. Yes, acquire more consumers. But don't you forget for a second to give similar attention to your current one. That's how top companies constantly increase their revenue velocity and rarely experience the shrinkage of their budget.
The only thing that could prevent them from meeting the expectation is - the market catastrophic event or drastic market change. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions could cut revenues for those companies that have to work in public and are unable to work remotely.
The solution must be much better than the vast majority of the market
The spinning question is how to meet the growing demand of customers and expectations from customer service. What is the essential secret? The answer is honest and simple. They have a better solution on the current market than all their me-too competitors. How do they achieve it?
In any niche, your product or service is always able to be better than it currently is. For instance, if you are in the internet provider business – your technical support team and a strong commitment to the technical services make you stand out from the crowd. And no matter how long you are on the market, customers will notice your presence.
Eventually, the essential secret to meeting growing customer expectations from customer service is to constantly improve the negotiation with callers, through collecting the real data, excluding mistakes from a conversation, and shaping calling scripts towards betterment.
You could be in the healthcare market, where your customers require a dignity-like treatment in blend with top-medical assistance. And again, once you achieve a first customer, your next 1000 or more customers are just a matter of time. Your job as a manager is to maintain and increase the agent's performance based on the huge amount of data.
There are dozens of examples for any kind of business, whether it's sales or customer service, but one thing holds true. If your customer expectations are lowered due to a lack of professionalism. Your business – is gone. And that's the finest explanation of why customers desperately buy from one company and neglect all others. Another reason is that customers always seek ways to exceed customer service expectations. Below you'll find the answers to why.
Do you know what anticipates and exceeds expectations?
As your level of professionalism is growing, you have to somehow prove it to your consumers and prospects. How do you do it? Fairly easy though. You just make a statement and then prove the factual implementation. And that's the only proven way to constantly satisfy customer service expectations.
Perhaps your marketing needs to be fixed in order to inform prospects and consumers of the whole variety of services you are providing. Or you need to create a strong database where consumers could easily fix their issues singlehandedly. Use various kinds of forums to keep engaged with customers and let them engage with each other.
On the web, you can publish all the updated info regarding your products and services. The only requirement is to do it in a timely manner so readers could examine them before the actual changing and affecting their current services. That's how presence across all channels guarantees to satisfy constantly growing customer expectations and satisfying their needs.
Keep in mind these tips when you'll be in the process of creating a 5-star strategy to meet consumer expectations.
Presence across multiple digital channels anticipates meeting expectation
First of all, you must remember that the most frequent business relationships are conducted via phone, then web chat, social media, email, and letter. Your goal is to establish your presence on all of these channels and to be there at the agreed hours.
So, the multichannel contact center is one of the surest options to reach this goal. And perhaps that's the more economical way to be present and constantly engage with consumers around the globe with the speed of the internet.
What are the final issues to consider?
In these jittery times, consumer's call center customer expectations are constantly increasing, they want more professionalism, great products, and timely efforts. If you maintain a great level of service or in case expectations are exceeded - you are qualified to be at the top of 20% of companies that collect 80% of the profit. This rule applies to all markets, according to the Pareto rule.
Contact us to discuss your needs and see Voiptime Contact Center in action!