Lennox Chamber Chat, May 17

Recognising a customer’s expectations is an important sales skill, critical to building business and achieving excellent overall results.  Going beyond the call of duty to consistently exceed those expectations is what makes winners and takes a business on to the next level of success. However, there is a fine line to walk in terms of expectations because of a simple rule of human perception and behaviour: while exceeding expectations can please a customer, not meeting expectations is a sure way to lose them. So, the best path to follow is to tell customers what they can expect, honestly, deliver on your promises, and then work to exceed customer’s expectations whenever possible.

Of course, it’s foolish to set customer expectations at a level that cannot be delivered. Your employees need to learn how to avoid making best-case promises when there is a likelihood they won’t be kept. That is a certain formula for cancelled orders and lost customers. However, if you want to distinguish yourself in the market, you must set an expectation that your people will aim for the exceptional and the memorable in every customer encounter.

One lighter-hearted but useful technique is called ‘the mother of all customer-service rules.’

For those struggling to understand or put in practice the values of over-delivering and exceeding customer expectations, ask them to put ‘Mum’ in front of their unhelpful responses to customers, as in ‘Mum, I’m sorry, but that’s not my responsibility.’ ‘Mum, the person you’ve asked to speak with is at lunch now, and I can’t help you with your problem.’  ‘Mum, may I put you on hold while I deal with another call?’ The simple question – Would you say that to your mother, or would you try to find a better solution? – can help people recognize better the level of customer service they are expected to deliver. The approach can be very effective in highlighting the importance of courtesy and care past the average.

‘Treat every customer as if they sign your pay slip….because they do’. – Unknown

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