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Expectations: Managing, and exceeding customer expectations

Customer strategy pillar 5: Expectations

Customer strategy pillar 5: Expectations

What it means

Organizations must know explicitly what they are in the business to do and, by extension, what its end users want from them. Delivery services, for example, are expected to move items from point A to point B on schedule and without damages. Restaurants are supposed to offer attentive service and serve their meals as advertised. Utility providers are expected to keep the lights on and wi-fi working no matter the conditions – or act quickly when their systems fail.

71% of Canadians expect companies to have a web presence (77% of millennials)

Expectations are set throughout every stage of the customer journey. Even still, over-promising on expectations is a sure way to leave customers feeling underwhelmed, while failing to define those expectations can lead customers to make their own assumptions. Organizations that do well know what their end users anticipate from them and are continually striving to match (and, ideally, exceed) those expectations.

What it looks like

Businesses that do well in this pillar take a user-centered design approach which reflects an understanding of what customer expectations are and how their organization is delivering on them. They know explicitly what they're in the business of doing, why their customers choose to interact with them, and what they expect to happen when they do.

Being good at this pillar isn't about always having the answer the customer wants to hear, either. It's about managing expectations and then taking ownership when they aren't met. Moreover, excellence in this pillar means going above expectations – be it to improve wait times, offer higher value, or enhance ones in-store or online presence to the surprise of their customers.

Over-promising on expectations is a sure way to leave customers feeling underwhelmed, while failing to define those expectations can lead customers to make their own assumptions.

The challenge

Lack of communication and transparency ultimately gives way to assumptions. Fair or not, these assumptions can cause customers to judge your brand by their own metrics. Therefore, it's important to play a role in setting those expectations and put in the work and investments to rise above them.

62% of Canadians expect to be able to track all interactions with a company (uberization of the world)

Where do you stand?

  • What do your customers expect? How do they see you? Are you aligned with those expectations?
  • What assumptions are being made? Are you actively managing and communicating expectations? Are you addressing misconceptions?
  • Do you have top-down engagement? Is your team aligned on expectations? Are C-suite leaders and frontline staff working from the same 'playbook'? Are departments contradicting one another?

When you are ready, 

let's do this.

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