Every day I interact with organizations and people who say that they want to exceed customer’s expectations, but when I get down to the nitti gritty of asking them how they do it, many seem to miss the mark. The landscape industry is full of head-bobbers that say yes, the grass
will be green, the beds will be weed-free, the flowers will be dead-headed and oh’ by the way we communicate proactively. But in the end, how many actually deliver? Will it be you, or your competitor?
“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to really know the expectations and then use that knowledge to leverage the relationship”
For most organizations, just meeting their Customer’s expectations would provide a good experience. To create a exceptional experience you have to define which areas that customers most value and exceed these aspects of the customer experience. Defining these areas implies knowing what the customer expectations are.
In the course of my career as both an owner and c-level executive, my # 1 goal has always been based on the building of a customer centric business model. Meeting customers goals was not the objective, exceeding them was. I wanted our customers to realize the real value of doing business with us. While most organizations know what their customer rational expectations are. They know how quickly they want a delivery, how much people are willing to pay for their service. What they don’t know is what their customer emotional expectations are, a massive gap in their understanding of their customers real needs and wants. Yes, we all know it’s about price, but it really does go deeper than that.
“When you understand a Customer’s emotional expectations, you can design an emotionally-based customer service delivery experience”
The 4- Number One Actions Needed to Exceed Customer Expectations:
1- Customers expect service– there is a perceived expectation that every customer has when going into a business relationship. For example, a landscape customer thinks that when they pay more they should expect more. The service delivery process is the key to exceeding these expectations. Landscape companies therefore are supposed to be accurate and dependable and provide the service they promised. It’s unlikely for a landscape company to exceed a customer expectations if they only just meet the mark. The real opportunity lies in the ability to surprise the customer with an often uncommon consistency of great service delivery and proactive communication.
2- Customers want relationships- Relationships are important to customers. many landscape customers that I have interviewed over the years want to be ‘relationship customers’, they want an ongoing, professional relationship with the personal touch. They want consistency with who they speak to. They want a company representative to contact them, rather than always having to initiate contact themselves.
3- Manage promises– Self-manage expectations, landscape companies must learn how to self-manage their promises. My interactions over the years dealing with customer service related issues have shown over-and-over promising and under delivering is the biggest killer of relationships and most often the likelihood of contract cancellations. Sometimes even under promising can be a strategy as it can set a reasonable expectation and then leave you room for exceeding the expectations which then makes you look real good. Keep in mind that there are some risks with under promising as it can reduce your competitive appeal, so make sure you are aware of your competitive environment.
4- Make Their Life Easier-Remember– A customer’s job is to manage their business, not manage yours. Anything you can do to save your client time, and make their job easier will make you easy to remember, and differentiate your services. This is where great communication comes in. lack of communication is the biggest killer of relationships in the landscape industry. Proactive communication means you reach out to your customer before they reach out to you even if the new that you have to deliver is bad. A customer would rather hear that you cannot meet an expectation before the deadline than hearing afterwards or never at all.
History will show over and over creating these types of customer centric experiences you will often exceed the emotional expectations of what customers want, the time, resources, and commitment you make are all well worthwhile. Furthermore, your organization’s business goals are met and often exceeded whereas you can then leverage your market for increased market share and revenue.
So I now ask you…what are some of your tips for exceeding your client’s expectations?
About the author; Steven Cohen is a highly motivated landscape industry entrepreneur & chief innovation officer at GreenMark Consulting Group; a Landscape-Snow Industry Business-Consulting/Advisory firm that specializes in helping small-medium sized growth oriented companies grow from under one million dollars to over five million dollars. Do you have a business or marketing question for Steven? You can reach Steven Cohen by phone at 610.905.3637. Email Steven at email@example.com or visit our website at www.greenmarkgroup.com to learn more about our services.
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