CVC Succcess Group coaches Jerry & Sheryl Isenhour
In this week’s podcast we talk about the true meaning of Customer Expectations. Today’s
customers appear to be harder to please. Fast access to information on the internet has made
everyone better researchers on product as well as services, and in turn your customers now
have extremely high expectations. What are you doing to manage those expectations? As a
successful business, you have to be good at setting up your customers’ expectations and
making sure that everyone within your company is doing their part to help write the narrative
of these expectations. Keeping your customer happy is everyone’s job.
The Chimney and Fireplace Success Network is a weekly podcast brought to you by the CVC
Success Group and hosted by industry expert, Jerry Isenhour. Each week you will find new
presentations to assist business owners and managers in turning their business dreams into
their business realities.
Jerry ISENHOUR.: Customer expectations, are you truly meeting them? You see, in today’s world, customer expectations seem more difficult than they’ve ever been in history. Today’s customer appears to be harder to please. They are better researched on products and on services, and they have extremely high expectations.
They have not had their expectations met with previous business transactions.
Adding to the challenge is, many customers have commonly not had their expectations met by previous business transactions they have had. Making them harder and harder to meet that customer’s satisfaction. But before we go further, you got to remember, and that’s how we spell the word customer. It is actually spelled p-a-y c-h-e-c-k that is right, it is our paycheck.
Because without customers, and without customer satisfaction, then economies stop rolling. Demand for your service starts to drop. And successful businesses require that they continuously and constantly examine the level of service that’s provided. Today, the customer seems so easily disappointed; just quite often, it just seems to happen. In today’s world, your people have to be good, not just good enough. Stay tuned with me as we dig deeper in this subject, and we offer some solutions.
Okay. Why is this subject matter of today? Why did Sheryl and I came up with that this was the perfect thing? It was all about an experience that we just suffered. You see, we just passed the New Year’s holiday, and our wedding anniversary is New Year’s Eve.
So usually, every year, we take a trip somewhere, either into the mountains or the beach, and I take a couple of days away. Well, we went to the beach to a resort we had been to before. And I really like this resort because it’s always had great service and all the things that are connected with it. Part of their offering is there is a restaurant next door that they include a great buffet in, and this was one of the reasons that we booked this hotel.
We pulled into the hotel and checked in.
Well, we pulled into the hotel and checked in, and when I did, the reception agent told me he said Mr. Isenhour, I see that you have booked our breakfast package. However, it’s not available at this point. And my thinking was, why did you not tell me that before I got here, you have been sending me marketing emails ever since I booked this.
Why didn’t you tell me my expectations would not be met?
Why didn’t you tell me that one of the things that I really was looking forward, was not going to be part of our stay? But we checked in anyway, he gave me a credit against the total room charge to make up for that, and we checked into the room. And things just went down from there. When we went in, the room was not well maintained. The closet door was not even in where it should be; it was just hanging there. Later, trying to take a shower, we couldn’t get the shower to come on.
So we called the front desk, and they said we’re going to get the maintenance man up; an hour later, no maintenance man had ever showed up. So fine, at that point, they said, well, let’s just move you to a different room. Okay, we’ve been here for hours, now we’ll move to a different room. So we got moved over into the new room, the next thing happened was it was a rainy evening. So, we decided to turn on the television, and the hotel had streaming movies on it.
This failure to meet our expectations went on for the entire stay.
However, the internet service was so poor that the movie could not stream completely. It would run for about three or four minutes, and then it would just start spinning. And this went on the entire time we were there. Just to say, it wasn’t a really good experience. So you know what we ended up doing, it was raining the whole time, pretty miserable time, we decided to check out a day early. Probably to never return to this resort in the future.
Because of the bad experiences we had. You know you expect once in a while things to go bad, but this was like a comedy of errors. You know, I think that the number one skill of managing customer expectations is always be thinking like the customer, not just like the business owner. Let me ask you a question, how do you feel when your expectations as a customer are not met? How do you feel when your deliveries are not there on time? When the materials that you’ve ordered for jobs, they just don’t get there. How do you feel when you have break damage? How do you feel when things just go wrong? How do you feel? You know when you go through bad service, one of the things you do is you start to doubt the price, but then you start to doubt the value.
It makes you reconsider your future buying decisions.
And furthermore, it makes you reconsider your loyalty to the business for future transactions. But you know, in the world today, we live in a world that is on edge; we really do. We can blame it on the COVID; we can blame it on an election that just never ends. We can blame it on a divided social-economic atmosphere that goes on in this country. We can blame it over the overwhelming business that we are just bombarded with right now.
We must be good at setting up the customer expectations.
But the whole thing is, as a successful business, we have got to be good at setting up our customers’ expectations. And we have to manage the expectations. So here’s a couple of rules for you to think about and how you can manage your customer expectations. Number one, communicate; this is always the key to setting up expectations. And setting your customers up for a successful experience, it really is all about communication.
Not only do you have to communicate clearly and actually with the customers themselves, you got to keep the lines of communication open with all of the other departments, all the other people in your business. Who have a hand in creating the customer experience? Every person in your company has got to be determined to be on this goal of customer satisfaction. Rule number two do not over-promise and then under-deliver, because this is also a big problem.
Do you truly meet and match what your marketing promises?
If people look at your marketing materials, if they look at what you say about yourself and your website, do you truly meet and match that? Know what you can and what you cannot do, that’s rule number three. Avoid over-promising; you have to know what you can do for customers. Often, this isn’t easy because management and customers expect that you can do more than as realistically possible, which goes back to manage the expectations on both sides.
If the problem is time, maybe you’ve got to work on your scheduling. Maybe you have got to work on your inventory, your ordering, whatever it is. You’ve also got to keep tabs on what does it cost to deliver everything that’s expected? And as Elaine Rohr once shared, you have got to charge more than it costs. Rule number four, this goes down to communication again but talking through obstacles. When you are working with customers, you need to define their ideal outcomes.
What are your customer expectations benchmarks you need to meet?
And what their success benchmarks are. And to do this, if there’s obstacles that you foresee or anticipate, you need to talk about these. Discuss potential issues before they arise, don’t let your customer get a nasty surprise. Don’t let that happen because that’s where things start going bad. Rule number five, your customer has trusted. You always value your customers trust.
There’s nothing that upsets a customer more than a feeling that they have been taken advantage of, that you have violated their trust. You see, that’s one of the things about trust, it’s so easy to lose it, and it’s nearly impossible to win it back. And once a customer stops trusting you, they stop being customers and become detractors. They want to tell everyone who will listen to their story about how you let them down. Customer loyalty, lifetime buyer retention is rooted in trusts, and this is what your business needs, and it cannot survive without it.
You have got to work on the customer trust factor.
So, you have got to be able to work on that trust factor. Track your customer’s behavior and sentiment; know if you have a sensitive customer. Know what the things are that are going to upset your customer. And one of the things to do is have a system of red flags in place to know when you are not delivering to the expectations that we’ve set. Rule seven, let the customer know when you’ve exceeded their expectations. Celebrate this with your customer, point out the success, and they’ll help you affirm their high opinion of you.
See, customer service teams are uniquely positioned to understand the whys behind what is of user behavior. But if you keep all your insights to yourself without sharing them with others in the company, you’ll continue having to manage misaligned expectations. Always work to set yourself up for success, and set your customers up for success also. And you are going to do this by addressing and detailing the expectations as early as possible.
Look at you marketing materials, do you deliver on your promise every time?
Let us go a little bit deeper; look at your marketing materials. Do you have a company message that you cannot deliver or don’t deliver to your customer? Take an honest look at your website; what does it promise? You know, I’m sure your website paints a rosy picture. But if you examine a lot of businesses, their actual actions simply do not meet what their marketing materials say about them. So we’ve got to always be looking, what is our message that’s going out to our customers? How are we setting the expectations of the customer?
These are all the things that require you to do deep thinking about your business. As you go forward in the year 2021, managing your customer expectations is going to become a bigger and bigger part of the successful business journey. And with that, I’m going to turn the microphone over to Sheryl and let her share with you her words of wisdom for the week, what I call Sheryl’s tips and tactics of wisdom. So, stick around with us, she will be right with you.
Sheryl Isenhour: Excellent customer service expectations, do you expect it? Hey, let’s face it, we are all customers. Every time we visit a store, an online store, a restaurant, or even when we have a service done, we’re looking for excellent customer service. How many times do you get it? How many times are you disappointed? We are living in a time that excellent customer service has turned into just okay.
We should not get nor should we expect non-excellent service.
I am not saying that all businesses do this, but it seems like it is getting more and more prevalent these days. We should not give or get non-excellent service, just to make sure that we get a good or a bad review. So many times, we’re asking for a review, but have we given the service that we need? Excellent service should be the norm, not the hoped for.
Hey, I consider myself a fairly easy customer to deal with, but I expect excellence, but many times get mediocre. When dining out, I like my table clean. I like to see a smile, not just a give me your order. I like my food hot when it comes. I like my liquid refreshed. I actually like it when my waitress at least seems like she enjoys his or her job. You know if they don’t, why don’t they just get another job? I know they are out there; I try hiring people daily.
Is mediocre ever OK?
And I wish that the new restaurants that opened with the wonderful food would stay that way, instead of once establishing their business dropping their quality. Now I dare say that no one listening would argue with any of these points, but how do you feel about it if you’re on the other side? Is mediocre okay? I will be paying the bill or if I complain, are you going to give me a free dessert? Or even more stupid, are you going to give me a free meal when I return, like that has happened before.
Why would I want your free dessert instead of having my expectations met?
Why would I want a free dessert if I was not hungry enough to eat it when I began the meal? And why would I want to come back for a free meal if the meal and service sucked this time? Treat me right the first time. It’s not only the restaurants, it’s in many businesses. Different problems with the same results lost customers. We all know it’s easier to keep a customer than to get a new one, and a whole lot less expensive.
With the internet, you not only lose this particular customer but how many more do you lose because they tell others of what you did? Today, Jerry and I seem to be on the same wavelength; since we both have the same example of what a bad experience was, I’m going to go ahead and tell it my way also. This weekend we went out for our anniversary, and we actually drove to the coast for a few days. We get into a room, it’s late.
The paint’s cracking off the wall; the bi-fold doors are off the track. And the final straw, as he told you, the shower wouldn’t turn on. So they did what any respectable hotel would do, they moved us to another room. Bi-fold doors were again off the track, hey, but the shower worked. There is a point here where they should have known Jerry’s voice by now, but the next evening Jerry was watching a webinar, and I decided to stream a movie.
This was certainly a special experience.
Well, this was special, since about every 60 seconds, these four little blue dots would go round and round and round. Or at least as long as I’d been watching prior to it, and then the TV would come back on. Well, I have a good tolerance, but after a while, I gave up, and I went off to bed. The next afternoon, we decided to give this TV another shot, same thing. Jerry finally once again called downstairs while we were gone out to dinner, the maintenance man came up, and his idea of an excellent customer service was to take it off the streaming, turn it to a regular channel and go away.
That was not my idea of what I was looking for with excellent customer service. I said all of this to get to this point, do you give excellent customer service the first time? Even going above what you were asked to do? Or do you do just good enough, just good enough to get by and get the check? I personally was brought up to believe it is a lot less expensive to take a few extra minutes and do it correctly the first time than to have to go back and do it over again.
Customer service goes two ways.
Customer service goes two ways, you are a customer, and you are expecting it, or either you are the customer, and they are expecting it of you. When you do a service for someone, do you look at it yourself through the customer’s eyes and imagine what they may be expecting? Another question, do you hold your employees work to your expectations of the job? In my outdoor living production manufacturing plant, the one thing that will put you on my crap list at the very top is to say, why does it have to look perfect? It will not show when the stone is on, not good.
Someone will see it.
I personally sell a quality product which requires a quality finish, even if it is covered up. To me, someone will see it before the stone goes on, but even more important than that, I will know it’s under there and not perfect. To me, quality is everything, even if no one sees it. So let’s start giving our customers the same excellent customer service that we expect. With that, let me turn it back over to Jerry to wrap up his thoughts on expectation, and as always, be able to say you are glad you did instead of you wish you had.
Jerry Isenhour.: You know, as we end one year and now, we are beginning, and we are into the next year. It’s time to take that 30,000-foot view of your business. It’s time to look at what’s falling between the cracks. It’s time to take a look at what you’re good at and where you’re just good enough. And maybe where you’re not meeting what you need to be doing. We want to help you with this every year. At the end of the year, we have a self-analysis sheet.
Find your downloadable self-analysis and goal setting form for 2021.
It is uploaded to our website, you can go to CVCsuccessgroup.com, scroll down the first page, and you can find your downloadable self-analysis and goal setting form for 2021. It’s all about making your wheel round, and we’d like to give this to you as a gift. So you can work on your business. And if you need some help coming to the conclusion, building the strategies that get you there, getting past those rough points, we’re here for you.
My name is Jerry Isenhour; our company is CVC success group. Myself Sheryl, and all the members of our team, we’re here to assist you. It’s as simple as reaching out to us, let’s have a conversation. Let’s see if perhaps the processes and the systems that work for others may just be the systems that you need in your business to move to that level you desire. And with that, we’re going to end this week’s episode of the chimney and fireplace success network. As always, we appreciate you joining us; let us know how we can serve you in any way in the future.