The next time you visit your favorite store, take a moment to think about why you are going there. If you are like many, it is probably because of the way you are treated. You see, every time we enter into a customer service situation we have certain expectations. In each one of these experiences, one of three things usually happens. Your expectation is met; it is not met; or maybe it is exceeded. Companies that strive to exceed your expectations are the companies that keep their customers coming back. The late Sam Walton once had signs posted at the customer service counter to remind everybody: “Give the Customer More Than He Expects and He Will Continue to Come Back.” This is why it is vital that all your employees understand how important it is to keep meeting the customers’ expectations and, more importantly, try to exceed them.
This is really not rocket science and, in fact, most of the time it is the very simple things an associate can do without adding any expense. Here is a very simple example. I stop at neighborhood bank to make a deposit. The teller completes the transaction and then asks if I would like to have a balance printed. Or, while going to the same bank to make a withdrawal the teller asks if I would like an envelope. Real simple, but in both cases my expectations were exceeded.
All employees can reflect on this more closely by following a 4-step thought process labeled “Expectceeding”. This process applies to all areas of customer service. This means Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Treasury, and yes, even your delivery person. David Packard once said that Marketing is far too important to be left to the Marketing Department. The same can be said about Customer Service. It is far too important to be left only to the Customer Service Department.
The first step is to think about personal customer service experiences. Reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly. This exercise allows employees to think about what their expectations were before the encounter.
The second step is to build a list of what you think your customer expects when he contacts you. I call this The Customer Expectation Index. It is helpful to take this list and place checkmarks indicating whether these expectations are not met, met or exceeded.
The third step builds on the previous list by examining how your competitors handle these same tasks.
The fourth step allows you to examine the Index to see how these gaps can be bridged. The final outcome is a concise list of how to better meet your customers’ expectations. Hopefully there will be plenty of areas where you can Expectceed.