I was prompted to pen these thoughts by a question on a linked in discussion board. It asked what did organisations have in place to achieve good customer satisfaction. And was it the "little things", the "extra mile" that made all the difference.?How do you handle ever rising expectations? Here are my thoughts:
There's often talk of consumer "expectations" growing, but what is really meant by that? If you respond to a customer within 15 seconds in a call centre, are we saying next week they will want a response in 14?
I think the core principles of customers' expectations actually remain pretty constant: responsiveness/timeliness; courtesy/respect; a perception of value (both in the product/service delivered and also of the customer themselves); the ability to help creatively when something has gone wrong. And you can make their day by making the experience very personal and engaging.
I do not believe that people keep simply turning up the "pass" level of these things; what I do believe is that they are constantly let down on them in their multitude of daily experiences and so for those organisation that are failing customers, it always seems those customers are wanting more. Not really; customers just want organisations to achieve the right standard. And of course, the right standard is totally dependent on every individual circumstance (e.g. the business you are operating AND the individual customer).
However, what does constantly change is that perception of value - because as organisaitons try to differentiate and then competitors follow suit, the bar keeps being reset. This is self-inflicted by organisations constantly chasing each other, rather than chasing the customer. A lesson in focus there.
What I have found from direct personal experience with customers buying products (for example) is the biggest thing that has an impact on satisfaction is the response to problems. There is absolutely no question that this is a moment of truth - with the potential to completely turn a customer round into a loyal supporter who, despite encountering an initial 'probelm', is actually *grateful* for having chosen to do business with *you*.