Expectations are everything in service-based business. If customers can trust that they’re getting precisely what they’re paying for, they’re more likely to stick around.
Managing expectations falls under the umbrella of customer experience management (CEM or CXM)—a broader range of processes that focus on customer needs and emotional motivations. CEM involves strategies and techniques to learn more about your customers and then optimizing your services to suit their needs.
It’s essential that you manage expectations at every service tier you offer. This will allow you to meet customers’ needs more sustainably, build brand loyalty, and maintain maximum profitability.
If managing customer expectations isn’t something you’ve thought much about, take a minute to check out our six tips below.
1. Come clean about timeframes
Let customers know how long tasks and projects take to be completed.
Adopting a systems-oriented mindset is crucial to designing and implementing a productized service business model. The virtues of a finely tuned system—like speed, consistency, and scalability—are the very things clients have come to expect from your business.
The very nature of a productized service leaves no room for ambiguity between you and your customers. The time it takes your team to handle individual tasks matters to your clients, and they expect to be made aware of time to completion early on.
2. Clear up communication
Your responsibility to communicate goes further than just timelines—full transparency with ongoing projects extends to all aspects of the services you offer.
Specifying not only when tasks will be completed for your customers, but also how they’ll be handled ensures they’re always on the same page as your team. This keeps expectations in check even as project terms change.
Following up with your customers after you’ve delivered is another powerful way to bolster communication and confirm expectations have been met.
3. Learn who your customers are
Figure out what matters most to your customers—and deliver it.
A big part of managing your customers’ experience should be centered around surveying and learning more about them. Coming up with a few customer profiles to conceptualize your target clientele can help you tailor your services to their needs and better meet their expectations.
Good customer profiles use information gathered from customer interactions to provide a general background of your target audience. Details such as age range, preferences, and location help paint a clear picture of who you generally work with, letting you tweak your service offerings to match what matters most to them. Besides helping you determine what your target demographic is looking for, a customer profile can even prove useful for determining things like product pricing.
4. Be honest, realistic, and clear
Overpromising and under-delivering will put you on the fast track to failure when it comes to managing your clients’ expectations. Only make promises you can keep to ensure your delivery is consistent, making it easier for customers to trust you.
You should also make sure deliverables are well-defined to avoid confusion and frustration later on. This will decrease the risk of clients feeling that they’re not getting the value they expected from you.
5. Define service limitations
When you first start offering your services to new clients, limits and boundaries should be clearly expressed. If you don’t define your limits early on in the customer relationship, extra deliverables can slip in unannounced over time, eroding profitability and blurring the lines between acceptable and unacceptable demands.
Clear service limits keep both your company and your customers accountable. When your clients’ needs surpass the limits you’ve established, it’s your job to let them know and guide them toward a more appropriate service tier.
6. Anticipate additional needs
Take some time to consider your customers’ desired outcomes: What job are they trying to get done? They may need additional services to get them there—and these might be services you’re able to offer. For example, clients purchasing content marketing services from you may also need posts published directly to their website or custom featured images made.
Anticipating these needs and then offering services as separate products allows you to solve problems without encouraging your clients to expect more than they’re paying for. This will ensure you’re being compensated fairly without any awkward conversations.
Manage expectations at every stage
The tips outlined above are great for ensuring strong, lasting, and profitable business relationships, but you can go even further.
ManyRequests can help you handle client orders efficiently and consistently—another sure-fire way to keep expectations in check, and your customer relationships intact.
Try out our order management solution to help keep your clients happy and bolster your recurring revenue streams.