As a service organization we often ask ourselves how can we better manage service quality. The following are our ideas on bettering negotiating client and customer service relations in a service business.
Effective management of your clients’ expectations is crucial for delivering optimal quality of work, which is important for keeping your customers and yourself happy. Meeting (or exceeding) client expectations is directly dependent upon how well you communicate with them. Communication is the key to understanding what the client wants from you. It is also important as it allows you to put forth your point-of-view as to what you expect from them; after all, expectation works both ways.
Read on to learn about ways in which you can increase the number of happy customers.
What are your client’s expectations?
The key to understanding what your client expects from you lies in asking questions. For instance, if a certain client has hired your firm to assist them in expanding their business, then you will need to ask questions such as ‘How much growth?’, ‘Over what period do you wish to grow?’ and so on. By asking them clear questions, you can gain a better understanding of their expectations.
However, there may be cases when a client is not able to verbalize what they expect from you. These are known as ‘implicit expectations’ – the expectations that the client holds without even informing you. These can be based on a number of things:
- Client’s organization’s culture and standards
- Industry standards & quality benchmarks
- Your firm’s personal reputation
To gain a better understanding of ‘implicit expectations’, learn to put yourself in the client’s shoes for a moment and focus on the following items:
- Active listening
Simply put, if things go a bit haywire and the client becomes unhappy, it is crucial that you sit back and think about what you would expect if you were at the receiving end.
Where Limits Need to Be Set
Whenever you are discussing expectations with your client, it is important to be frank. For example, you may want to sit down and listen to what they expect from you. In return, you would need to convey what you expect from them in order to fulfill their needs. This will bridge any communication gaps right from the start.
Never Promise What You Cannot Deliver
This is something that you must never do. In order to ensure that you do not break your client’s expectation, do not promise something that you cannot deliver. There will surely be instances where a client wishes you to do something that you cannot, such as completing a project on a seemingly impossible deadline. The best way to deal with such situations is to clearly state that something can or cannot be done.
In the end, to ensure happy customers, it is imperative that you remain on the same page as your client by establishing clear communications and setting expectations for both the parties. Expectations work both ways, and there is no other way around it. When you stick to this concept, you will avoid a lot of hassle of failed expectations and similar problems.