Customer service often finds its way into conversations I have with family, friends and colleagues. Whether it’s fabulous, good or deplorable, it ‘s something we all notice and we freely share our experiences with others.
Good service means doing what the customer expects, and while this sounds simple, it isn’t. Why? Because we often act based on our own expectations, not our customers’. In fact, a lot of the time we aren’t even aware what our customer is expecting. Yikes!
The word “expectation” comes from Middle French and Latin, and orginally meant “anticipation”. As customers, we create, in our mind’s eye, a preview of what we will experience with a graphic designer, real estate agent, restaurant, hotel, etc. When the actual experience falls short of our preview … .
Here’s a recent example: A few weeks ago I had the delightful task of ordering a cake. In searching bakery websites, a very specific cake caught my eye. For years I’ve looked longingly at this cake in one of my favorite cookbooks, but I’ve never had the courage to create one – Sachertorte.
With the photo of this delicious cake in view, I called the bakery. A young man answered the phone. It could be that I’d interrrupted him, although I didn’t hear other voices nearby. It could be that, since the bakery is also a cafe, it was very busy. But I didn’t hear that in the background either. What I did hear very clearly was a lack of interest in my call.
I began my questions about cakes, asking his advice on choosing between the Sachertorte and another chocolate cake that was pictured on the website. Thoughout the call his responses were monotone … until he yelled at someone in the background to confirm the cake would be ready for the next day.
While none of this behaviour was dreadful, it was completely contrary to my expectations. As a customer ordering something I consider to be one of life’s greatest treasures – cake – I was expecting friendly, happy, interested. I was expecting an experience that I would want to repeat, that the bakery would entice me to order cake more often. (It reminded me of planning my wedding 8 years ago and phoning a high-profile local venue only to be greeted by the owner’s complete and utter boredom at having to speak with me. I was expecting someone who’d be excited for and with me. Needless to say, that phone call ended very quickly.)
Back to the cake … the Sachertore did not disappoint. It was absolutely delicious. But the experience of buying it had an impact. Next time I want to order cake, I’ll likely call a different bakery first. I’ll look for the experience I’m anticipating. If I find it, and the cake is equally as delicious … .
So the question is … do you know your clients expectations? If you aren’t sure, ask. For example, “What are three key skills you want your staff to own by the end of our workshop?” or “What type of updates would you like to receive while your property is on the market?” or “Are you looking for a sweet and light chocolate cake, or one that has a deeper, rich flavour?”
Creating this clarity allows us to not only deliver what is expected, but to exceed those expectations. The result? Referrals and repeat business come our way.
Enjoy your phonework everyone!
What’s The Phone Lady Doing?
July 27 – Phone Skills for Job Search and On the Job, Phoenix Youth Summer Employment Program, Halifax, NS
July 28 – Customer Service Excellence, The AIL Group of Companies, Canada (Tele-training session)
August 5 – Customer Service Excellence, Bayshore Home Health, Halifax, NS
August 17 – Phone Power: Today’s Most Valuable Cold Calling Techniques, Advisors Circle, Panora, Iowa
August 18 – Telephone Talent, Javelin Technologies Inc., Toronto, ON
August 25 – Mentoring Bootcamp with Futurpreneur Canada, St. John’s, NL
August 29 – Master Class in Phone Communication for Startups, Propel ICT, St. John’s, NL
August 30 – Master Class in Phone Communication for Startups, Propel ICT, Halifax, NS
August 31 – Master Class in Phone Communication for Startups, Propel ICT, Fredericton, NB
September 2 – Master Class in Phone Communication for Startups, Propel ICT, Charlottetown, PE
September 12 – Today’s Necessary Phone Skills for Sales, O’Regan’s National Leasing, Halifax
September 13 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CEED, Halifax, NS
September 14 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CBDC Hants Kings, NS
September 15 – Telephone Talent: Essential Skills for Reaching and Inspiring Conversations with Prospects & Clients, Estate Financial, Moncton, NB
September 16 – Phone Skills for Job Search and on the Job, Older Wiser Labourforce (OWL), Halifax, NS
September 19 – Today’s Necessary Phone Skills for Sales, O’Regan’s National Leasing, Halifax, NS
October 4 to 7 – NSBI Trade Mission to DreamForce Conference, San Francisco, CA
October 16 – Mastering Essential Phone Skills, TripCentral, Toronto, ON
October 29 – Let’s Talk: How to Inspire Conversation on the Phone, CAA, Dartmouth, NS
November 16 – Telephone Talent: Phone Skills that Build Relationships and Support Growth, Newfoundland Assn of CBDCs, Gander, NL
November 30 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous, CEED, Halifax, NS