Managing the ever-demanding customer expectations.


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As a mother, wife, business owner, board member and the wearer of many other hats, I am constantly managing expectations. If I do not set the proper expectations with all of the different people in my life, I will certainly disappoint someone somewhere. Once I set expectations, I also must manage them. There are millions of people out there like me that must set and manage what is expected of them. So with all of these people out there setting and managing expectations, why are so many companies struggling to meet their customers’ expectations?

Better yet, I think the real question is, “When did the customer expectation line get moved so far back?”

Have we crossed the bridge to insanity?

Somewhere along the way, customers’ expectations have gone from acceptable to really out there. Perhaps it’s due to a sense of entitlement that customers are feeling today. It seems that more and more customers feel that they are entitled to ‘special treatment’, entitled to more than what they purchased, or entitled to an endless product life without any service necessary, simply because they made a purchase at all. Perhaps it’s the constant threat of social media warfare wherein customers can voice/threaten their dissatisfaction of products and services so publicly. Whatever the reason, the reality is that customer expectations have crossed over to some truly insane levels.

Recently when reviewing some of our business partners’ data, I came across some customer comments that prompted the idea for this post. I found myself shaking my head and saying out loud “are you kidding me? You bought a TV 11 years ago; why should it be replaced for free?”

Customers should have reasonable expectations about the product. But every day we see examples that are entirely too far over the line. You know how to deal with reasonable expectations; it’s the other ones that cause the difficulty.

Reasonable expectation about the brand:

“I can’t trim along my sidewalk before the battery of my new trimmer needs to be recharged. I only have about 125 feet of trimming to do but can’t do it at one time. Who wants to do yard work 100 feet at a time? It seems that the battery doesn’t work right.”

“I purchased a XYZ brand product, a wall oven, in 2009. The hinges pulled away from the cabinet in December 2010. I expect an appliance to last at least 7 years, up to hopefully 15 years. This one lasted less than 18 months, about 15 months, before it pulled away from the product. I think this is because XYZ Company has not substantially reinforced their products.”

“I have a XYZ brand refrigerator, side-by-side. I’ve had it since June 1, 2002. The compressor has gone out on this refrigerator. I feel it should have lasted longer than that. Now I have to buy a new refrigerator. I paid over $1,100 for this refrigerator. I feel it should have lasted longer. You need to make a better product.”

Out there expectation about the brand:

“I bought an XYZ brand induction cook top 3 years ago. I’ve had a horrible, horrible experience with service providers that were recommended by your company. I’ve had it out of service for 2 months. Now I’ve been given a reimbursement check for the amount that I paid 3 freaking years ago. I’m totally unsatisfied with this. I probably won’t buy your brand again. I know it was not under your service contract, but you should be aware of what’s happening out there with other service companies because it’s turning customers away. I’m extremely disappointed in the service.”

“I bought a computer, printer and everything else that I needed six years ago. Now my computer is in the fritz and you cannot help me with this. Why should I pack it up and take it to a repair place. You didn’t make a product that is good enough to last.”

“My granite counter top above the dishwasher gets very, very warm to the touch. Enough that you could probably put a plate on it and warm the plate. I’m concerned about my granite counter top, even though the dishwasher has an insulation blanket. I needed to find out what could be done. I was not told that there was really anything that could be done, because that’s the way you make their dishwasher. So I am dissatisfied.”

What is being done to manage these expectations?

As an organization, what are you doing to manage your customers’ expectations? Are you setting the proper expectations from the initial point of sale or service across the enterprise? It is okay to be firm with your customers from the start, explaining what your policies and procedures are? How do you reign in the unreasonable expectations? Please share one of your techniques to help your agents deal with this kind of customer. We all need help to stop the madness.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jodie Monger
Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics (CRM) and a pioneer in business intelligence for the contact center industry. Dr. Jodie's work at CRM focuses on converting unstructured data into structured data for business action. Her research areas include customer experience, speech and operational analytics. Before founding CRM, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.


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