We all know that is it sometimes difficult to manage true, hidden or potential expectations of customers both in B2B and B2C industry. Here are 3 lessons that I have learned from a 4-year old girl.
Customer Expectation Management:
- Validate your assumptions with the customer as early as possible
- Everything is possible – Expect nothing!
- Customer expectation management is not a project
Validate your assumptions with the customer as early as possible
Every day we wake up and begin our morning routines. Brushing of teeth and preparing breakfast is easy compared to the selection of your daily outfit.
It is natural that we select different kinds of clothes for different situations: A business suite for a meeting with a top customer or more relaxed sweater for a casual Friday at your home office.
Things become more complicated when you have to select clothes for someone else, especially for children. I have tried to preselect clothes for our 4-year old girl on my own, but it never works. Her first comment is often:
“Dad, I don’t want that dumb shirt!”
Frustrated with this situation, I soon began to try a new approach. I asked our girl to select clothes with me, instead of selecting her clothes on my own. This approach worked instantly 100% better than the first one.
Lesson #1: Don’t make assumptions on your own even if you have known your customer for very long time. Instead, ask for direct feedback from the customer by showing different product or service options. Use Minimum Viable Products or Prototypes to speed up the development and time to market process.
Everything is Possible – Expect Nothing!
After learning the first lessons, we started to go every morning together in to her room and opened her wardrobe full of her favourite clothes.
Naturally she immediately began to pull every shirt out until she found the one she liked on that day. This process ended up adding to my work as I had to fold everything else up and put it back afterwards.
Soon, I realized that to reduce the after work, I must help her to select the right clothes for the day. I started to show shirts, bottoms, socks and underwear one by one until she had selected a full set of clothes.
Some days I am sure that she is going to select a My Little Pony shirt, but of course she decides that today it is a princess day. Also, often I expect that all clothes must be pink (her favourite colour), but then she combines a red shirt with a blue dress and green leggings.
Lesson #2: Basically, every combination is possible for the customer! You might think that all customers want the same, but there is no such thing as the average customer. One likes fast delivery as others expect top of the class quality. You need to find the correct balance between different customer expectations and what you offer.
Customer expectation management is not a project
Because of this new way of working with the 4-year girl, our mornings are much faster and easier for both of us. No more crying and screaming!
One more thing that I have learned is that I can’t rely on yesterday’s assumptions being still valid today. Two Princess days in a row is of course possible, but very unlikely.
Sometimes I feel that her expectations vary based on the weather and other things, sometimes even magical, external conditions. I need to start the process from the very beginning again every single morning.
Lesson #3: Customer expectation management is a continuous way of working. It is crucial to be customer centric every day. Sometimes it even means that you need to abandon a current, cost optimized process and replace it with a completely new one. In other situations, the same old process can be digitalized and, for example, only extended to a mobile channel.
This is a true story!
About the author: Timo Savolainen is a dad and published author of Leading Digital Transformation. His expertise is Design Thinking, Service Design and F2F & Online Facilitation. He is also a certified Agile Leader. In 2017 Timo was selected as one of Finland’s top 20 Twitter influencers in Digitalisation.
Connect with Timo:
#CustomerExperience #DesignThinking #ExpectationManagement #ContinuousTransformation
Further recommended reading: Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products