By Arinze Okamelu
THUR, DECEMBER 29 2016- “Human wants are insatiable”. This excerpt is a common knowledge to any student of economics in our secondary schools. Even in the conventional society, it holds sway. Though it was coined many years ago, it is still factual today .This perhaps has to do with the intricate nature of human beings. However, this quote has become more real with today’s customers’ expectations, especially in our multifarious society.
Though these expectations differ, and vary from individual to individual, marketplace to marketplace, industry to industry and, to some extent, from consumer group to consumer group, the ultimate look -out of an average customer, are satisfaction.
To give credence to the above; last week, after this writer highlighted the need for customers to get value for their money while writing on “GETTING VALUE FOR MONEY, CUSTOMERS DESERVE IT”, there was a good number of follow-up to that write-up; there was barrage of “appreciation” mails from readers, for dwelling on an area that needs “attention”. In the mails were some feels of relieves that simply underscores the need for business organizations to meet customers’ expectations.
Nevertheless, it is imperative for business organizations to meet the expectations of their customers. This is more so, when one considers that customers are the major reasons why they are in business in the first place, besides profit making. Simply put, “customers’ expectation” is simply “customers’ satisfaction” as no customer expects anything short of satisfaction. Therefore, customers’ satisfaction cannot be over emphasized in any given business community.
As stated earlier, as customers “faces” are different, so also their expectations are different, as well as their perceptions. To meet these satisfactions, and leave customers with good perception, business organizations must first, understand the expectations of their customers, if truly they want to satisfy them.
According to Roy Hollister Williams, a marketing consultant, and the author of best-selling “Wizard of Ads” trilogy,“ The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” In other words, the popular maxim that “You can’t give what you don’t have”, comes true here.
So going extra mile in understanding customers’ expectation is a business virtue that must not be compromised. Without this simple, but important understanding, the foundation to customers’ satisfaction remains wobbly, and whatever efforts and amount invested in making a product and service, will just be cosmetic.
Therefore, a research with focus on two important elements in below question is important- “Whether their product or service has “met” or “exceeded” expectations?”- For clarity, the elements to watch out for are “Meeting” expectations and “Exceeding” expectations.
However, smart businesses would understand easily that customers’ expectations set the bar for customers’ satisfaction, which also affects “repurchase decisions and customer loyalty” and ultimately, increase the company’s bottom-line. There is no gainsaying that a customer will feel disappointed and most possibly look elsewhere, if a “company’s promise” are different from the “company’s deliverable” as he or she expected. He or she will simply not come back to buy from the company again. On the flip-side, if the company delivers a service that exceeds customers’ expectations, you can stake they will come back to buy again, and what more? They will readily share their satisfaction experiences with their friends and family members.
Consequently, understanding customers’ expectation is a business asset that must be sustained in order to continuously meet their satisfactions. By understanding here, one means, knowing the expectations, and meeting the expectations.
Below are highlights of some most often neglected customers’ expectations by business organisations;
Customer expects value: A customer feels short-changed and disappointed if what a company promised is different from what the company is delivering. In any case, the customer was paying to get that promise; so if that promise isn’t there, there is this feeling of “ripped-off”. Also, a customer expects “bonuses”- to get extra than paid for and this could be more enduring, if the business organization is creative about it, by giving “bonuses” out with some surprises.
Customer expects a relationship: Beyond patronizing your business, customer desires more; looks out for an after sale interaction and desires to be treated as friend. The customer expects to be empathized with, and solutions to whatever challenge he or she has, proffered, without much qualms. He wants to be contacted on any issues by the company’s customer care representative, rather than always having to initiate contact himself or herself.
Customer expects trust: A company must not over-promise a customer if it is not sure of fulfilling exactly that. A customer expects companies to exceed expectations than reduce them. In other words, companies must be deliberate about managing their promises. There’s nothing worse than over-promising and under-delivering! This can make a customer feel “taken for granted” and abandon whatever trust he had for the company. However, companies must keep in mind that there are some risks with under promising as it can reduce their competitive appeal.
Customer expects fairness: As everybody wants to be treated fairly in any given situation, so also is a given customer. If a customer buys a product and it becomes faulty due to no fault of his, he expects some replacement without “ceremonies”
Customer expects Information: There is need to make complete information about a given product and/or service available to a customer, so as to make him or her make informed decisions and choices. Also, no customer wants a business transaction that is shrouded in mysteries and no customer likes to be kept in the dark concerning any challenge he or she may be facing on a particular product and/or service. He or she expects some feedback from his/her enquiries. In doing these, he or she wants some level of swiftness, courtesy, competence, commitment, and understanding from the company.
Customer expects satisfaction – This is the ultimate aim of a customer-SATISFACTION. All the above highlights will help make a customer satisfied and this will engender loyalty which would make him come back for repurchase again in the future.
Having highlighted the above, it is noteworthy to reemphasize that customers’ expectations differ, and the above aren’t their only expectations- customers’ “taste-buds” and perceptions, influence their expectations from a company or their products/services, at any given time or season. The bottom-line however, is that customers deserve to be treated to their satisfactions, and business organizations must refocus their commitment towards meeting these expectations which lead to their satisfactions.
Arinze Okamelu, is a Media Entrepreneur and Marketing Communication/Business Consultant with passion for customer focused marketing and excellent brands’ value delivery.