Surpassing the Expectation.

Not easy...but achievable

Customer service expectations in the US are quite low.  It is not unusual to experience service that is not up to standard. A visit to a restaurant is a gamble as to the quality of service that is to be expected. Manufacturer's warranties are shorter on many products, often sending a message to potential customers that selecting that product for purchase is also a gamble.

Some companies have even adapted the strategy to 'Underpromise' in order to achieve customer expectations.

Companies that deliver expected customer service on products and services are usually labeled 'Excellent' by those who measure customer satisfaction.

As a consumer, I expect a fair price and quality (otherwise known as 'value') for the products and services I seek. If I can find a vendor or provider that can deliver on the expectation, I am satisfied. I do not expect anything else other than to receive the product or service in a timely manner, and that the product performs according to the manufacturer's promise; or that the service delivered meets the provider's promise.

Surpassing the expectation is a tall order. Getting the product or service on time, getting the service completed in a timely manner, is merely enough to MEET THE EXPECTATION. Surpassing the expectation would mean that the product arrived earlier than expected, or that the service was completed earlier than promised, or that the final price is actually lower for the same quality product or service. Anything less is merely meeting the expectation.

Surpassing the expectation is not commonplace because few (sales persons, companies, factories, etc.) are willing to go the extra mile to do more than what is expected. Whe this occurs, we say that the person or company is excellent. This leads to referrals and additional sales for said individuals or companies. It means success!

A team of professionals recently launched a networking group. The members that would be allowed to join this network must be known to provide exceptional customer service. This, in my estimation, is a higher level than 'surpassing the expectation'. Providing exceptional service means to me that this person or company perform at a much higher level than those who 'surpass the expectation'. They are truly 'world-class' in the delivery of their product or service. They are individuals or companies that succeed even through recessions or depressions.

After a few consulting sessions, I found out that this team was having issues in recruiting members. When asked toexplain the reasons as to the low number of membership applications, it became clear that the primary reason was not the elevated 'bar' as related to customer service expectations of the member applicant. It had all to do with the membership application  and subsequent membership fees. 

This team had failed to truly understand their customer (potential members)! They had assumed that a set membership fee would be accepted by all, regardless of company size, company revenue per average sale, expected number of referrals to satisfy the company's return on investment strategy, etc.

Before surpassing the expectation, a professional or company must KNOW the customer, their expectation and their definition of VALUE (price to product/service). Once these are known, and only then, a strategy can be developed to meet and exceed the expectation.

On to Getting customer feedback