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How do I Manage Customer Expectations?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Managing customer expectations effectively is extremely important or business and profits are likely to suffer. Understanding what customers want is the first step in meeting their needs. The best way to manage customer expectations is to research what their needs and wants are, strategize how to meet them and implement the strategies.

Consumer marketing research gives companies answers into what certain target markets expect in the products or services they buy. A company's marketing department should study consumer research that relates to its target market. A target market means the types of consumers most likely to buy a certain product or service. For example the target market for a step-in type of bathtub is elderly and disabled people. By having a good understanding of the consumers most likely to want or need its products or services, a business can create more cost-effective advertising that will meet or even exceed customer expectations.

Effective advertising strategies can bring in new customers as well as meet their expectations. Business managers should always put themselves in their customers' shoes. The better they can imagine who will buy their goods and what they want, the easier handling customer expectations will become. Advertising should never be misleading, not only because it's against the law, but even staying within legal limits without clearly presenting a product or service will go against your customers' expectations. If target consumers become disappointed in your product or service's ability to deliver the benefits they're expecting, they are likely to turn to your competitors' offerings instead.

No matter how good a company's offerings meet the expectations of consumers, customer service must also be effective. Consumer complaints are bound to happen in any business, but how they are managed can have a great impact on customer loyalty. The best customer service policies can retain loyal buyers, which keeps profits and sales at a desired level. Properly managing customer expectations means apologizing for mistakes made. Being defensive and not acknowledging any mistake on the company's part is bad customer service.

Whether a business likes it or not, it's customer perceptions that count. Experiencing company operations and products through the customers' eyes is an important strategy in making sure consumers' expectations are met. This is why owners or upper management sometimes go undercover, pretending to be customers so they can see how actual consumers are being treated and served by their staff. Creating and implementing a customer survey is another strategy to get information about products and services. Customers fill out survey cards about their experiences at a certain store or with a specific business; these comments are carefully evaluated by management involved in managing customer expectations.

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Discussion Comments

By fify — On Jan 18, 2015

@candyquilt-- I agree with you about customer service. It's great to be able to give feedback to a brand and for them to acknowledge that. I recently emailed a complaint to a big brand name about a product. They got back to me right away and told me that they will be looking into it. This is the right attitude for managing customer expectations.

By candyquilt — On Jan 18, 2015

@SarahGen-- I think one issue is the lack of communication.

I mean, how will a company know what customers think about their product? In order to find out, they have to speak to them, communicate with them. A lot of it is done by requesting customers to leave feedback after their purchase. There are also research organizations that can do polls and other types of questionnaires to ask people about their preferences for a product. A good customer service also ensures that customers can voice their opinions, likes and dislikes easily and quickly to the company.

If a company is not managing customer expectations well, it is obviously not doing these well enough. It has to find new and better ways to communicate with customers and potential customers.

By SarahGen — On Jan 17, 2015

I sometimes see very large brands making some big mistakes when it comes to managing customer expectations. For example, a candy brand recently changed one of their most selling iconic products. Customers were shocked with the change and everyone I met was complaining about it. It was obvious that everyone liked the previous product and wanted it to be back.

Why do brands make mistakes like these? Is it really very difficult to know what customers want?

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