Exceeding Expectations: Should You Focus On It ?


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Every day we get the chance to go above and beyond for customers. But should we? In this post we explore the benefits and risks of aiming to exceed customer’s expectations – and why that might not be the best strategy for everyone.

Does exceptional customer service mean exceeding expectations

Exceeding your customer’s expectations causes happy feelings just like surprises do. And surprises are great! But imagine walking into a surprise birthday party after crashing your car. Surprised don’t have positive effect if you’re not in a good mood. As Adam Toporek says, moments of delight ‘’are the cherry on top; they are not the cake.’’ It’s important to focus first on solving problems, before delighting customers.

Making your customer happy is great but should it be your top priority? It’s actually difficult to do it consistently. Any time you spend time wow-ing one customer, it takes time away from helping others. And that extra effort might not even be appreciated. So while doing something nice for customers is fine, it’s more important to meet expectations for everyone instead exceeding them for a few.

The Kano Model of Customer Satisfaction

The Kano Model states that there are 5 qualities of customer satisfaction that need to be met. We’ll go over 3:

Must-Have Quality (Thresholds) – these attributes are basic threshold for a product or service to even be considered in the market, such as polite responses, reliable product or delivering a product in good condition. A minimum viable product must meet all market thresholds.
One-Dimensional Quality (Dissatisfiers) – these attributes result in satisfaction when fulfilled and dissatisfaction when not. Think of them as promises to customers.
Attractive Quality (Delighters) – these attributes aren’t advertised, but if fulfilled provide a sense of awe or delight for customers, such as a handwritten thank you letter or a credit for a free month. But beware – delighters can become dissatisfiers if they’re used too frequently.

These attributes build on each other. Providing one but missing the others result in unhappy customers. We must determine which of our qualities are must-haves, dissatisfiers or delighters. If customers expect 24/7 support, but live chat is offline on the weekends, they will be dissatisfied. But flip it on it’s head! If customers believe your support team is only available weekdays, but receives a quick response on the weekend, they’ll be delighted.

For ultimate customer satisfaction we need to focus on meeting our One-Dimensional qualities consistently before looking at opportunities to deliver on Attractive qualities.

How to Meet Customer Expectations

Before you exceed customer expectations, you need to know what those expectations are. They can be either set by the company, or assumed by the customer.

Setting and promoting expectations can help customers understand what ‘’normal’’ is. A few ways to help set expectations:
• Publish and promote a clear refund policy  
• List hours for live chat

• Set up autoresponders to new email tickets

By explicitly stating what you agree to provide, customers will be able to make an informed decision. By leaving expectations open for interpretation, you’re letting customers set the bar – and you might not like where they set it.

To determine what expectations your customer has that you’re not meeting, look at your customer satisfaction surveys. Dive into negative survey responses to see where things have gone wrong. For every comment you read, think – why did the customer expect something different? Is there a way I can align their expectations with our service?

How do you exceed customer expectations?

If you’re consistently meeting expectations, it might be time to start going above and beyond. It’s possible to delight customers by accident, but it’s more likely to happen if you create a process for it. Identify moments in your customer journey where delight is possible. Create a trackable and repeatable way for agents to employ these moments.

Finding little, repeatable ways delight customers will help you exceed expectations without sacrificing support quality.

Consistency is the key to happy customers

When it comes to providing a great customer support program, the key is consistency. Meeting customer expectations every time is a better strategy than exceeding customer expectations 30% of the time, but not meeting basic expectations 70% of the time. And remember – it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver than to overpromise and underdeliver.


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