We expect our power company to keep our lights on. When we go to a high-end Italian restaurant, we do not expect a burger and fries on the menu. Yet, many times we fail to manage the expectations of our clients and customers.
Expectations are sets of ideas and beliefs that serve as a barometer for the growth of any businesses, sectors, and organizations. As a result, there are many expectations leaders need to manage. There are expectations from employees, customers, vendors, and the community.
How can a scaling business deal with them all?
When you sign a new client, they are usually having difficulty articulating their expectations of what you can do for them. Managing their expectations is one of the most important things you can do early on. If you under-promise too much, you risk losing the client. Of course, if you let the client have their dreams and expectations dictate the pace and deliverables, you will most likely end up disappointing them. As local businesses, this is a tight rope we are walking.
Therefore, the most important thing you can do with your new clients early on is to build a relationship. Your clients need to have trust in you. They also have high expectations, which sometimes are challenging to meet. This means you need to clearly explain timelines, details of the work, and immediately report any setbacks. This is not about making excuses; it is about being open and managing expectations.
As a business progresses, there will be setbacks and challenges. Often, this comes from the lack of a proper approach to customers’ expectations.
The most common expectations that are missed are:
- Customers expect you to solve the problem for which they came to you.
- Customers expect you to be someone who will always assist them.
- Customers expect respect from all employees in your company.
- Customers expect courtesy from all employees in your company.
- Customers expect to receive a smile from all employees in your company.
- Customers expect kindness from all employees in your company.
- Customers expect you, your employees, and your business to be someone they can trust.
- Customers expect to be encouraged when they are buying something from you.
- Customers expect you and your employees to be honest with them, even if you think you should not be completely honest.
- Customers expect you to fulfill all promises regarding value delivery.
- Customers expect something more than average or standard expectations.
- Customers expect indispensable service and serving.
- Customers expect your own, your business team, and your business to be willing to adjust according to their specifics.
- Customers expect loyalty from you if you want them to be loyal to you.
- Customers expect you to know them well.
When these expectations are professionally managed, you will have strong relationships with your customers and clients. This will reduce the effects of adverse situations. This is important, because as we all know, eventually, something will go wrong.
Expectations are full of positives and negatives. Successful business people look to avoid adverse situations. Therefore, we plan to avoid difficult situations, and this is accomplished through managing expectations.
High expectations from your clients and customers may hurt your business, but it can also grow your business. To do this, you need to meet those expectations. This is based on your decision-making about the value of risks you are willing to take.
While sometimes, negative consequences might be unavoidable, it is, however, controllable. Your leadership skills will play a critical role in achieving this. Therefore, it will help you effectively manage expectations that might cause undesirable outcomes, such as over-promising.
To better manage expectations, prepare and sign a written agreement regarding the terms, conditions, and specifics of the work being done. This allows both parties to feel secure in the work or service to be performed. Once the agreement is written, you should read it together to ensure everyone is on the same page. This is not just for the scope of work, but also to make sure everybody understands the legal terms and conditions the same way. Doing this will help to minimize the possibility of mismatched expectations. This should include a complete list of deliverables and a timeline of when they will be delivered.
It is essential to set boundaries. These act as buffers explaining precisely what the client should expect. Once defined, overdeliver to delight your customer. There are two parts to being able to do this. The first is to ask a lot of questions. The more specific the question, the more likely you will receive specific answers that will advise your work, giving a greater chance of delivering on their expectations. Second, communicate regularly and truthfully. Transparency will help solidify the relationship and inform them as to what to truly expect. This includes taking the time to interview new clients to find out what they are looking to achieve.
It is crucial that you get to know your customers and clients. Clearly communicate the process with them. Make sure they understand it and are comfortable with it. You need to understand your customers’ and clients’ needs and expectations. It is imperative that you deliver everything that will satisfy their needs. Always level up, and go beyond their expectations–this will help you thrive.
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