Customer Expectations

By on December 9, 2013

Many companies claim that they want to "exceed customers' expectations." There’s a problem with this mantra, however. It is based on the supplier’s view of what its customers expect. And this is inevitably shaped by the rules and procedures that have been built up to "protect" the business. There are built-in limits. Employees understand that this "exceeding" cannot go outside of parameters that are defined by the organization.

Imagine parents attempting to give their child "everything." It can take on a narcissistic quality, built on the philosophy that "If we give him everything, we will have a great relationship." But this approach can ultimately fail when it is based only on the parents’ definition. Perhaps they should question what is not being given. Perhaps the child really wants them to be involved with his success, provide him with personal attention and treat him as an intelligent adult. Customers are the same. They want suppliers to provide valuable outcomes that go beyond the products that they purchase. They want those suppliers to care about their success.

Headshot_lrgOne-dimensional service approaches can cause companies to set expectations for customer needs too low. It’s easy to think that customers only want what we have been giving them all along. This is "status quo bias" – people prefer to leave things the way they are. Customer 3D™ organizations counter this with a passion for originality.

Take a creative new look at your organization. Remove the product that your company sells from the equation (temporarily, of course) and concentrate on the image behind it – what is left, in other words, when the product disappears. Now, create a customer-centered strategy that defines the way that you want customers to see you. Make this strategy detailed and list activities that employees should be doing for customers. But also set your standards higher than today’s expectations. Set a goal that stretches the organization and empowers employees. It will help the entire organization understand how it can become more customer-centric after the product is put back into the equation.

Customer-centricity only happens when there is a vibrant dialogue with customers that sharpens an organization’s focus on what those customers need. It has nothing to do with meeting what they expect. They are going to expect basically what you have been giving them all along. Instead, 3D organizations are driven to change customers' expectations – by proactively delivering better, more collaborative outcomes. The Customer 3D™ system and culture measures its success by its ever-improving performance for the customer.

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