Ever played the game "telephone"? It starts with a circle of people and a wacky story whispered from person-to-person around the circle. The fun comes when the last person in the circle says aloud what they last heard, and the initial person says what they originally started with. Without exception it's completely different from what started the cycle.
Managing expectations can be very similar.
If what you expect and what your customer expects are different, then you are setting yourself up for failure, or at the very least disappointment. Sure, it's a basic message-sent/message-received communication issue, but it comes down to making sure that you're both on the same page. This applies to simple things like, delivery times, print quality, color match, installation time, cost, and a hundred other things that shape the whole experience.
Jared Smith of Bluemedia recently commented in Big Picture Magazine, "Setting a client's expectations is an art in itself, and it takes a bit of finesse to come off like an expert, rather than a vendor making excuses."
Very well said Jared!
We recently had a situation at Roland DG that involved managing expectations. It started with a customer unhappy with the way his printer was working, but as we peeled back the onion, we learned that his expectations had been shaped by an outside “color guru” and a support individual that was obfuscating the issue and making things generally worse than necessary by misinforming the user about what he needed to do to get things back on track.
Once we were involved, late the game, we had to dig out of a hole. Sure, if we could do it, we'd be heroes, but all the same, we started out behind the 8 ball.
Our team assessed the situation, and several Roland DG folks from different disciplines applied some troubleshooting to the problem. It turned out that it was mainly a profiling and settings issue. The fact that it escalated to us really turned out to be a good thing because we were able to carefully (and diplomatically) explain what could be changed to reset their expectations of the printer and save the day.
So my question to you is, "What are you doing to manage your customer's expectations?" Is it a game of "telephone" or clear communication resulting in satisfied customers?
I often wonder what you expect from our blog. Are we meeting your expectations? Are we just having a one-way conversation? That's fine if that's our expectation for the blog. Just need to know we've got satisfied readers.
Thanks for dropping by,