Setting Customer Expectations

Last week I went into a department store with my three kids in tow. All I needed was a watch battery, so I assumed that it would be a quick trip.

I went to the watch counter and nobody was there so I pressed the help button. An automated recording informed me that someone would be there in 60 seconds or less. I thought this was a great way to set expectations of when a customer would be assisted and improve the customer experience. Until it didn’t work.

After 4 minutes, I pushed the button again. Same automated voice stated someone would be there in 60 seconds or less. Not so much. Waited another 5 minutes and pushed the button. By this time, my 3 kids are getting almost more restless then me.

Setting customer expectations from the start is crucial in any business. While I’m sure the department store installed the recorded message with good intentions, it setup an opportunity for failure, rather then an opportunity for success. Too often, we forget how customers will respond and react to processes that are put in place.
Ways to ensure customers have a positive experience:

 

 

 

 

  • Engage current customers when creating new processes
  • Determine if there is a need for a change
  • Make it simple

 

 

To get a watch battery, I had to hunt down someone to assist me, but it wasn’t “their area.” So they had to find someone else.

Don’t make it difficult for your customers to give you their money.

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  • […] Setting Customer Expectations Last week I went into a department store with my three kids in tow. All I needed was a watch battery, so I assumed that it would be a quick trip. I went to the watch counter and nobody was there so I pressed the help button. … […]

  • […] Set customer expectations […]

  • I have managed customer service for more than 20 years. The one thing I learned about setting up customer service programs is not to rely too much on devices (a button) to trigger our response to a customer. If a customer service crew cannot respond to a person-to-person interaction, it is almost impossible to make them respond to a ringing buzzer.

    Unless a store clerk or customer service associate is specifically trained to respond to “devices” as triggers, they are simply giving these workers an opportunity to ignore customers. Personally, I consider such devices primitive and personally insulting not only to the customer but also to the store representative who has to respond to a bell (like “Pavlov’s dogs”) to be able to interact with customers.

    As a marketer or a service provider, you have control over your product mix (components of the product) which means that you can approximate or experiment on how customers react to these components of the product. More than making the product or service available, (you are right actually about “setting customer expectations) we must manage customer expectations by creating the parameters or boundaries for these expectations.

    Sometimes all we need are common decency and courtesy when dealing with customers, unfotunately these aren’t integral elements of customer interaction in this day and age. When training customer service teams, I let them go through the process of going to a store (preferably reputed for bad service) and let them experience bad service. This could be a good starting point for introducing indicators of good (or excellent) customer service.