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The Importance of Managing Customer Expectations

Posted by Phill Claxton

MSP Customer Expectations

Many MSPs are turning to customer satisfaction tools like Nex.to and Client Heartbeat to measure how satisfied their customers are with their service. While this is a very important step in gaining evidence as to their performance, real customer satisfaction starts with knowing customer expectations.

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.”
Roy H. Williams

The major challenge with knowing customer expectations is that they are a difficult beast to control.

“They grow, they shrink, they change shape, they change direction. They shift constantly, and they shift easily. And how satisfied (or dissatisfied) your customers are is determined by these expectations and your performance in meeting them.”
Naomi Karten

As a managed service provider it is important that we play a role in helping to set and manage the customer’s expectations.

Often MSP's struggle setting expectations particularly around response times. However being faster to respond is not always the answer.

Our research also shows staffing for faster response often doesn't scale, risks creating significant staff waste and providing impersonal service. See a future post on what we've seen here.

So how do MSP's help set customer expectations?

5 key things that you can do are

  1. Know your limits
    A company should never offer services they can’t deliver, there is no point taking on clients whose expectations you will never be able to meet. This does far more damage to trust and reputation than saying no.

  2. Set the expectation
    Don’t over promise, don’t under deliver. If you set an expectation above what the customer needed but fail to meet it you have failed.

    If you set expectation even if it is not what the customer wants and you bet it you have a customer champion. Dale Carnige best sums it up with "under promise, over perform".

  3. Explain potential obstacles and deliver on problems
    Problems happen. You can chose to respond in one of two ways, ignore them or be all over them in such a way that the problem becomes a golden opportunity to wow customers.

  4. Use your delivery process to market your business
    John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing points out that you can use every process of delivering your service as an opportunity to market and brand yourselves. An example may be writing a blog post about how you deliver your service.

  5. Constantly and consistently communicate with customers
    Communication is key to managing customers’ expectations. Providing clear and efficient ways for customers to communicate with your business helps to continually reinforce expectation

 I think, Sir Richard Branson best sums it up when it comes to setting customer expectations:

“ The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not just meet them, but exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways”
Sir Richard Branson

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