Customer Experience News & Trends

8 customer expectations – and ways salespeople can exceed them

Most salespeople would agree with these two points: Customer loyalty is the key to long-term sales success, and exceeding customer expectations is the best way of achieving it.

If you exceed their expectations, they’re impressed. If you’re meeting their expectations, they’re satisfied. Delivering below expectations is obviously bad, but in the context of creating loyalty, so is simply satisfying customers, because they’re getting nothing more or less than they expect.

Ebbs and flows

Customer expectations are a dynamic, with ebbs and flows. If your customer’s satisfaction level is changing, find out if something has happened, either on their end or yours, to affect their expectations.

If satisfaction is rising, find out what you’re doing right, so you can keep doing it. If satisfaction is sliding, figure out how to reverse the situation before you lose the customer.

Customer expectations today

Customer loyalty is hard-won and mostly driven by the quality of the salesperson. The ultimate question is how can a salesperson determine what his or her customers value most so as to satisfy their expectations. Some of the most common customer expectations include:

  • Solid information. Deliver fast, efficient and accurate information, including prompt responses to their inquiries, whether online, by phone or in person. Providing valid information tells customers that you respect their ability to make sound decisions.
  • Options. Customers don’t want to hear that there is only one way or a single solution. They may respond positively when they’re given a selection. Options are essential because they create dialogue and discussion. Once the customer asks questions and you respond, a long-term relationship may develop.
  • Engagement. Customers expect you to provide an open channel for communication and feedback. Respond quickly and personally to concerns of high interest to your customers. An engaged customer is more than satisfied and more than loyal. They go out of their way to show their association with your company. They also support you during both good and bad times, because they believe what you have to offer is superior to others.
  • Complaint management. Managing comments and concerns benefits you in two important ways. Research indicates that an upset customer whose problem is addressed swiftly can be turned into a highly loyal customer. Secondly, hidden gems may be found in your customer complaints that can be a rich source of improvement ideas.
  • Flexibility. Because they have less time to manage their work, customers expect new levels of flexibility. They want salespeople to present innovative solutions to problems. They look for responsiveness and creativity. They look for salespeople who make it easy to do business with them. Effective salespeople communicate their flexibility whenever possible. Their customers never hear words like “That’s our procedure.”
  • Creativity. Customers look for ideas on how to improve their operations. During your dealings with a wide variety of businesses, you probably pick up ideas and techniques that can be helpful to other customers. Try to pass along helpful suggestions to customers. They appreciate this type of help, and you may be repaid with increased loyalty.
  • Fairness. Customers want to be treated fairly. They want to know that the service and product they receive is as good as that received by any other customer.
  • Trust. As technology opens new doors, overwhelmed customers find themselves looking for someone to guide them through the challenges they face. Many products and services are difficult to distinguish from the competition. Prospects look for salespeople they can trust who will help them make the right decisions.

Adapted from the book Managing Expectations: Working With People Who Want More, Better, Faster, Sooner. Now by Naomi Karten, a management consultant.

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