PC PAL MD Jat Mann offers up some customer service advise

Better Business: Managing expectations

Jat Mann talks about creating and managing customers’ expectations.

This month, I will be continuing my focus on sharing tips and techniques on building and maintaining a strong culture of providing excellent customer service. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, there are many factors involved in achieving this, including having a strong and consistent brand and by looking at the world from the customer’s perspective. As discussed in last month’s column, we are all customers ourselves.

There is an additional facet of providing great customer service, which really does set you up to either impress or disappoint a customer. It’s easily overlooked but can leave all the hard work you have done in creating or delivering a product or service ignored, with the customer often feeling disappointed with the one thing you did wrong.

The facet I am talking about is about creating and managing the customers’ expectations. In other words, what you tell the customer or what they think you are going to do for them will have been created directly from either what they have been told by you or read about you.

Anecdotally, a prime example of this regularly occurs to most customers when they are attempting to create an appointment for someone to visit them at home to either fix a problem or deliver/collect an item.

I am sure many of us despair when we are informed that an engineer is scheduled to visit sometime between 8am and 6pm. For many people who have a child, that is the worst possible timeframe as it interferes with the school run at both ends of the day. I know some companies offer shorter appointment of windows, such as between 8am and 1pm but again that interferes with the school run too and also makes it difficult to take just a half- day’s holiday from work.

What I believe customers would prefer, is to be asked when a suitable time would be good for them for an engineer to visit. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change? It would also delight customers that you’ve asked them and that they are involved in the process, rather than effectively being told when an engineer will visit them. The same is true for deliveries or collections, but at least there seems to be progress now being made to shorten these windows.

So this month, why don’t you ask your customers what they would like and involve them in the process. Although there are limits to what you can do, explaining that to customers will strengthen the relationship and ultimately lead to happy and loyal customers (which will no doubt flow down to your bottom line).

Jat Mann is MD of www.PCPal.co.uk. You can contact him on jat@pcpal.co.uk

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