The Art of Exceeding Customer
Expectations in 2021_
Given how interconnected and digitally advanced the world has become – especially given the increased practice of most consumers to manage crucial aspects of their lives online – it is relevant for companies to re-evaluate how they respond to and exceed customer expectations. Only satisfying customers is no longer enough to keep them – new and better ways of delivering services and products are being imagined and implemented every day.
As such, firms must take a two prong approach to exceeding customer expectations – first they must define the customer’s fundamental requirement; then (and more importantly) they must iterate and change their product or deliverable consistently to stay ahead of their competition and keep their consumer engaged and happy. This second prong is where customer expectations can be best exceeded, and if done correctly will not only ensure a consistent and loyal consumer base, but may also lead to these same customers sharing their experiences with friends and colleagues and thus result in viral marketing and more positive attention on the company and brand.
Given how interconnected and digitally advanced the world has become – especially given the increased practice of most consumers to manage crucial aspects of their lives online – it is relevant for companies to re-evaluate how they respond to and exceed customer expectations.
The Keys to Exceed Customer Expectations
1. Develop Close and Trusting Relationships:
Successful companies are purposeful on how they hire, train and support external facing employees, as well as the type of technology they give these critical communicators to carry out their jobs. Ensuring staff members such as customer service representatives and concierge professionals receive the resources needed to effectively talk to clients is crucial for building trusting relationships and having productive conversations. Next, these external facing employees must practice and receive feedback on their abilities to elicit or respond to consumers. The goal of this feedback should be to empower staff to vary their responses such that the ‘level’ of the conversation with the consumer is comfortable to that consumer vs. a scripted discussion ubiquitously delivered to everyone. Most consumers abhor structured interactions, as the script-like interaction leads them to feel devalued. Only through personalizing interactions and growing genuine relationships can companies truly exceed expectations.
2. Create a Culture of Active Listening
Communication with consumers should occur in a timely manner if there is a problem of course, but some of the best feedback may also derive from satisfied customers. Increasingly in order to exceed expectations companies must interact with consumers who are happy and might not think to engage. As such, a company should be purposeful about actively listening not just to consumers who start the conversation, but also those who would not think to reach out. Once a communication with any consumer occurs that results in an idea for a better way of doing business, that customer should be thanked and potentially even receive some ilk of public accolade or recognition. Responses could include prizes from the company, call outs on social media platforms, or free products or services.
3. Always Aim High
Mediocor expectations of customer service are never the goal. So why is it so many companies have dismal customer service? In many cases it’s because companies fail to aim high, or set their sights on purposefully being the best. They don’t invest in their employees appropriately and ignore or fail to reward feedback. These pitfalls are avoided by purposefully aiming high. This means setting elevated expectations about not only how to achieve phenomenal customer service, but also making the difficult and ideally regular course corrections required to maintain it.
Stephanie Grey is a Digital Marketing Manager overseeing search marketing for Adapt Intelligence. She has spent eight years developing and implementing campaigns in management consulting and technology services, and consultants with Charlotte small businesses on ways to attract more customers online.