Do your customers fall into the ‘expectations gap’?
Does your organization have customers with different expectations than they should? How does that happen when your company should be setting proper expectations? But, as you know, there are often gaps between what they think and what we think they should think. The gaps often yield dissatisfied customers, high customer effort and more customer complaints than you’d like to get.
Recently I had the experience of being in one of these “gaps” when I needed some pest prevention work done to my home. I jumped through several hoops, both financially (large upfront sum) and physically (items in my yard had to be removed prior to the work starting). I had prepared myself for the money and the preparation to my yard and reasonably expected the work to start promptly. I did not expect there to be further complications once the work got underway. After all, my expectations were formed by the contract we signed.
I knew I was deep into an aforementioned gap when I was met with harassing phone calls from the billing department asking for payment – yes, the payment that had been made upfront. Then, my property was damaged (they knocked the fence down completely) and the necessary repairs were to be paid by me. How is that fair? I did research, partnered with a reputable company, and specifically outlined the payment and the work order upfront only to be met with continued frustration and costs.
Your business and your products vary from this example but the impact of misaligned customer expectations is universal. Expectations are often set at the point of sale and you are left to best manage the gap between your customer and the company. The outcome is the key because negative customer sentiment only serves to damage your brand.
Think about how properly setting the customer’s expectation would change the sentiment from negative to positive:
“I order from your store frequently and usually get my packages promptly. This time you were out of the product, but I was never notified it was backordered. I waited for weeks and the product never came.”
“When I purchased XYZ electronic product I was told it would be a product that could stand the wear and tear of a busy office and should last me ‘at least five years’. I was surprised and very disappointed when after less than six months the machine stopped working.”
“I purchased with your company specifically because of your first-rate service plan, except when I needed service no one answered the customer service line. I guess I’m the fool that didn’t try the customer service number before I signed the service agreement!”