Managing Customer Expecations
There’s a formula to help define success in any project. Do Customer Expectations = Final Outcome. This is the easiest way to figure out of any of your events or projects came out with a positive outcome.
Let’s face it, we can’t please everyone. While this is true, I think it’s possible to manage the expectations to lean towards 100% satisfaction. Remember that different people have different styles and personalities. From what I’ve learned over the years is that the scientific type of people out there require greater details in what’s going on while more finance people want the final number in the end. There’s a balance that you need to find when managing expectations. That’s why it’s important for you to find your style in managing expectations.
Expectations are key. In other words, we can give someone everything in the world but if that’s not what they are asking for you have failed in your duties. I had a long discussion with a friend of mine who wanted to give a gift to someone else. My thoughts were that as far as I know, that person didn’t want that specific gift. But my friend was persistent because it was the right thing to do (give a gift). Think about it. If you’re craving an apple and someone gives you an orange, are you satisfied?
There are many strategies in managing customer expectations.
Here are a few:
Get the customer involved – Get a group of the customers together to figure out what they expect in the end. Have the customers talk with each other and step in when they are all in agreement with each other.
Don’t hide risks – Show the customers what the risks are from the beginning of the project/event. This helps them understand that something can go wrong with a certain problem.
Share – Give your customers updates on what’s going on with the project/event. You want to keep them in the loop. This is a great technique but more importantly, nothing is hidden and when you share something with someone they appreciate the fact that you confided with them.
Say no – Wasn’t this about making the customer happy? Well, over the years I’ve learned that there are some things out there that go far beyond the technical capabilities of technology. Also, remember that you have deadlines to keep up. I’ve been in several meetings where people ask for something right in the middle of the project. While the temptation to laugh is there it’s probably best to explain that it can’t be done within the timeframe.
Put yourself in their shoes –Think about how you’d like to be told about a project status. What are the key elements you’d bring up?
The underlying clue to customer satisfaction is effective communication.