Businesses that provide the best in customer support can generally count on getting some great returns out of that. Improved customer relations, a better chance for return business, even positive word of mouth. TeamSupport recently took a look at how to generate the best in customer support by managing customer expectations.
Start by actively discussing potential solutions with clients. Nothing's quite so unpalatable as wanting business but not being able to provide it, and having clear understanding of what can be done helps keep everyone happier. Also, make it clear when it will be done. Customers can be understanding if companies are up front about time issues, and leaving the customer unclear as to what will be done when is a sure path to bad customer service.
Both of those points require the business to be absolutely up front with the consumer; while mistakes and unexpected issues happen, not delivering on what is promised can be a sure customer relationship killer. Keeping secrets, or even outright lying, is to be avoided at all costs; bad news delivered honestly has a better impact than good news that never materializes.
Avoid the desire to be optimistic. The idea that businesses should never say “no” to a consumer is dangerous and potentially disastrous; an honest “no” is generally better than a dishonest “yes,” particularly in the long term. Certain company policies can help in terms of figuring out just how long certain issues will take to resolve, but these don't always work in every situation.
Finally, follow up. When someone's waiting for a solution, it's never a bad thing to let that customer know where the solution is in process. There's a limit to this—no one wants hourly updates on a situation that will take weeks or months to solve—but overcommunication generally isn't an option within reason.
These aren't the only ways to manage customer expectations and deliver the best customer experience, of course, but these are a good start. Back when video stores were a much larger part of the customer landscape, it was said that video stores deal in managed disappointment. When a customer comes in, generally said customer is expecting to find a certain title. That title isn't always available, so video stores take the opportunity to move that customer into a different but similar title, thus making the sale even though it wasn't for what the customer wanted. Sometimes a desired solution can't be delivered in just the right way. Customer service manages the disappointment, and through regular, honest communication keeps the customer moving in a direction the customer didn't necessarily want, but was willing to take.
Whether it's managing expectations, or just managing disappointment, the end result is the same: the customer gets something as close to what's desired as possible, and the business gets to keep a customer.
Edited by Maurice Nagle