When you’re in sales, one of the more difficult aspects involves meeting lofty customer expectations. You have a duty and obligation to maximize profitability, but you’re also asked to attend to the needs of customers so that they’re truly satisfied. Striking a balance between these two ideas can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible.
The Importance of Meeting Expectations
A healthy customer service initiative requires a commitment to high customer satisfaction. A commitment to high customer satisfaction requires you to have a firm understanding of customer expectations. That means the first step in meeting customer expectations in a demanding industry is understanding what the target customer’s expectations are. That’s what author Roy Hollister Williams meant when he said, “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.”
Once you understand what the customer wants from you, it becomes possible to follow through and satisfy their demands and needs. Nobody understands this truth more than car dealers, who are always tasked with the responsibility of identifying expectations on the spot and delivering upon them.
“A lot of what we do involves meeting the customer where they are,” says Martin Carrieri of Pines Ford, a Florida-based car dealer. “It’s never a good idea to have an agenda when it comes to selling. The only way to develop truly satisfied customers is to help them meet their own purchase goals.”
3 Tips for Satisfying Customer Goals and Expectations
Do you have a firm understanding of your target customer’s purchase goals? Here are some tips for leveraging these goals and expectations:
Price vs. Quality vs. Speed
In most cases, a customer is driven by a desire for price, quality, or speed. This will change from customer to customer, but it’s imperative that you’re able to tap into these expectations from the start.
Going back to our example of a card dealer, almost every person that walks onto a car lot in search of buying a new car is looking for one of three things: a good price, a high quality vehicle, or a fast sales process. Depending on the expectation they have, your approach will be different.
If the expectation is price, then you’ll try to push the best deals you have. If the expectation is quality, then you’ll turn to warranties and safety studies. If the expectation is speed, you’ll let them know that they can drive away with a vehicle today. Do you see how different expectations affect interactions?
Customers Desire Relationships
In competitive industries, it’s often the salespeople that set one company apart from another. Relationships are very important to modern consumers, so you need to invest in personable people if you want to meet expectations. This gives you an advantage right from the start.
Proactively Communicate Shortcomings
It’s impossible to meet expectations in every single situation. However, if you’ve correctly identified your customer’s expectations, you’ll know when you’re falling short. The key here is to proactively communicate this shortcoming to your customer before they begin complaining.
An example of this strategy in practice is when an ecommerce store emails a customer and lets them know that there’s been a delay in the shipment process and the order won’t be shipped for another day or two.
Nail the Basics
While some customer expectations are brand or industry specific, others are relevant no matter what. For example, a department store doesn’t have to think about whether or not customers expect clean restrooms. Of course they do! This is one of those things that you need to get right, regardless of the situation.
You can satisfy many expectations by simply paying attention to the standard things that businesses are supposed to provide to customers. Ultimately, this frees you up to focus on the more important issues.
Understand the Customer
As a business owner or employee, you understand your business. You have a firm grasp of the products and services you sell, what sets your product offering apart, and why customers should choose you over the closest competitor. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether or not you understand your customer’s expectations. Once you do, you’ll experience a fundamental shift in your approach to sales, marketing, and customer service.