Managing customer expectations in a multi-channel era

Managing customer expectation: Knowing where to start

Here’s a fun story that illustrates the importance of managing customer expectations. A few days ago, I decided to check out a new online wedding decor company that was recommended to me by a friend. Following a quick keyword search, I found what I was looking for and headed to the checkout section to submit my order. Seconds later, I checked my inbox for a confirmation email, but to my surprise, I never received one. I refreshed the email window several times and checked my spam folder. Nothing. My immediate reaction was to locate a live chat window to talk to an agent. No live chat feature, just a contact form. So then I looked for a phone number to reach someone directly. No answer.

I could already feel myself getting more and more impatient. I thought to myself, “I need answers, and I need to talk to someone right now.” As a last resort, I submitted a request through their contact form. I only heard back from someone at the store the following day. Turns out I didn’t properly click on the the submit button to commit my order so it never went through. Totally my fault.

These days we talk about how “customer experience is the new competitive battleground” but you can’t truly grasp what this statements mean until you’re in the customer’s shoes – and that’s exactly where I found myself.

Managing customer expectations: Setting the tone for success

We know that the initial impression you have of a business can set the tone for the entire customer experience. Reflecting back on my experience, I realized how quickly I became frustrated when I wasn’t able to speak to an agent immediately. Was I overreacting? Absolutely. Would everything be ok if I waited a day before they responded? Of course. Was this issue so important that it would disrupt my entire life? No way.

As a customer, I was interacting with several different e-commerce websites a day, and I had come to expect a certain online experience, and this particular company just didn’t meet my expectations.

But it’s really not that simple for businesses is it? In fact it’s stressful – trying to figure out how to improve their own customer experiences while staying one step ahead of the competition. It can feel like running in quicksand  – going nowhere fast. That’s why it’s so important for executives to know where to focus their efforts to ensure they are creating a frictionless customer experience.

Companies receive hundreds if not thousands of these type of support requests that hold key insights related to managing customer expectations. These insights are direct windows into the customer experience and they are integral to understanding how customers experience your brand. Instead of aimlessly trying to guess ways to keep their head above water, businesses should rely on their customer data (submitted tickets, emails, voicemails…etc) to determine where they need to make improvements to the customer experience.

Let’s take my example, I submitted a contact form asking why I didn’t receive my order confirmation. Perhaps, knowing this information could help this company improve their checkout experience. Maybe they could add an email trigger that notifies customers about pending items in their cart. Just a thought.

Speed was something I had come to expect from online shopping sites. How is your own business managing customer expectations? Are your customers frustrated by slow call response times? Do you ship their deliveries quick enough? Are you able to resolve their issues effectively? All of these things can easily be discovered if you ask for, listen to and analyze customer feedback in detail.

Customer loyalty means continuously managing customers expectations and designing a frictionless, consistent, experience around those expectations. It’s like the old saying goes “Happy wife. Happy life.” the same can be applied in the corporate world: Happy customer, happy business.

Here’s to a strong, long-lasting relationship with your customers. 


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