See How Easily You Can Manage Client Expectations
In a recent blog we discussed the very sensitive issue of “is it OK to fire a client/customer”. One of the issues highlighted in the case study, was managing client expectations. As business owners, many are prepared to go the extra mile for clients/customers, sometimes at significant cost to the business for little or no return.
Andrew Gallagher, Lollyworld surveyed his online customers asking about their expectations in relation to service delivery. Over 95% surveyed replied they had an expectation of 24/7 service. Kudos to Andrew for asking the question because now he is armed with information to assist him to set terms of service delivery and educate customers in order to manage their expectations.
It was agreed between my colleagues at today’s Albany Creek Business Contacts networking meeting that it is important to set boundaries in relation to client/customer service and to communicate them to your clients/customers. It was raised that in doing this, a business needs to have some flexibility and to make a strategic assessment of client expectations. A good example provided referred to a florist who was approached to provide for a wedding on a Sunday (the business does not usually operate on a Sunday). After assessing the customer and their needs the florist chose to provide to the customer as it was a significant job and it had the potential to lead to three plus more customers. In this instance it was worth service delivery outside of the normal terms.
Mike McFillin, Australian Training School, quite wisely cautioned in relation to creating false expectations, for example, if your trading hours are 8.30am-5pm, and you start answering the phone at 8.15am because you are in the office, and then 8.00am and/or then 7.45am, clients will ring at these times because they know you are there and will answer.
Nathan Dobbins, Core Computers also suggested that business owners should not breech home – that is, if a client/customer indicates they can’t get to the business premises in opening hours don’t let them come to your home after hours. It is suggested that either you stay back at the business premises as a one off (and communicate to the client/customer that it is a one off) or suggest that you will drop it off at the client/customer premises again as a one off. By enabling home to come into the business could open the flood gates to clients/customers blurring the lines between business and private time both from the physical premises point of view as well as operational time of the business (for example, if they can pick things up from your home after hours then it must also be OK to phone you at 9pm).
Business owners need to educate themselves and their people on their systems and processes first, to ensure they don’t create their own false expectations. If the business is very clear on this then communicating to clients/customers can be quite simple. This can be done through a number of ways including (to name a few):
- client/customer charters,
- welcome letters,
- at first meetings with new clients,
- quotes that set out timeframes and processes (not too little and not too much),
- formal terms of trade,
- signage on shop front,
- website (eg, trading hours),
- social media,
and so the list goes on.
The moral to the story is to not create client expectations that are not reasonable nor sustainable. Once your processes and systems are developed and you and your people know how things work, how long it takes for things to work and the performance measures for outputs, this can be appropriately communicated to clients/customers to minimise any false expectations.
Balanix Solutions – Accountant, Business Advisor, Bookkeeping.
Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs. Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail. Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.
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