7 characteristics of 'customer expectations'

Lasting relationships between people are based on trust. And the only way to earn trust is by fulfilling expectations. But 'expectation’ is such an abstract concept, how can you define that? Expectations have 7 common characteristics.

"We won't lose that customer, we've been doing business with them for years” is a frequently heard reasoning. But this does not hold true in practice. Customers never have a relationship with a company, they have a relationship with the contact person at the company. They haven't been doing business with a company for years, but with the contact person at that company. It’s always about the relationships and trust built between people.

From abstract to specific

• There will always be expectations
Even if nobody asks about them, they are always 'in the air’
• Expectations always relate to the future
An expectation is not an evaluation of the past. So it can still be fulfilled
• Expectations are personal
They develop in your brain: sometimes very explicitly and sometimes without you even noticing
• Expectations depend on other events
Expectations depend on a promise made, your earlier experience, word-of-mouth and personal needs
• Expectations can be emotional or rational
Rational expectations are very functional and have to do with the product or service. Emotional expectations have to do with the relationship and the cooperation. Your response to the emotional expectation, in particular, can set you apart from the competition
• Expectations change
Economic, social and technical developments can change customer expectations. For example, since the emergence of the Uber taxi concept anyone looking for a taxi expects one to be there within minutes. People are no longer prepared to wait for a taxi
• Expectations are the benchmark for assessment
Assessment is comparing expectations with the experience gained. Customers are asked for their experiences afterwards in a customer satisfaction survey

Conclusion: foresight is the essence of management. Make sure that not only you, but your whole organisation knows your customer. Map out your customers’ expectations with Expectations. Show your customer your vulnerable side. They will feel honoured and involved. Organise the fulfilment of their expectation. Have everyone work together to achieve that. Finally, as the customer to assess YOU on the basis of their expectations.

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