Over an extended weekend, my wife and I were able to take a mini-vacation. When we arrived at the car rental counter, they did not have the vehicle I was promised. This did not make me happy. My wife said, "Relax, it's no big deal." During the weekend, we were having a nice dinner, but the server was nonexistent for us and the tables around us. This caused my wife, uncharacteristically, to summon the manager and complain. I smiled and said, "Relax, it's no big deal." (Men, that's not a recommended strategy.) In both cases, the issue was that our expectations were not met. A positive customer experience and a negative one are both caused by our expectations.
Whether we recognize it or not, our expectations have changed. Part of this is due to technology, while part of this is due to competition increasing standards. Either way, our expectations and the expectations of our customers have increased — a lot. We all expect, dare I say, demand more. This raises two very important questions:
Do you know what your customers expect of you?
Are you exceeding those expectations?
The research is quite clear — Happy and satisfied customers buy more, buy longer, renew more and are more loyal than unhappy customers. Hello, Captain Obvious, right?
There are simple questions that must be asked with every client engagement:
How will you be measuring the success of this investment?
How will we know this is working?
What do you expect from me and my company when we do this?
Clients who invest money with us have answers to those questions whether we ask them or not. Think about it from your perspective, whether it's a rental car, a meal or another type of purchase, don't you go into it with a set of expectations? Of course, we all do. But how many of us tell the people we are buying from what we expect of the purchase?
Clients are no different. They have a set of expectations, and if we haven't clearly identified them, we are in danger of not exceeding them, or at the very least meeting them. This week, start with your top clients. (Assuming you haven't asked, because most don't do so.) Ask them how they measure the success of their investment with you. You could go further and ask them when they buy from you what they expect from you and your company. The answers to these questions will provide focus or further discussion. Either way, it leads to a greater understanding. Asking these questions can avoid the number-one prospect objection: I tried radio once, and it didn't work."
These changes in expectations also require a change in our approach to marketing. Have another great conversation with your clients. In his book, Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout says: "Quality and service are no longer differentiators." Customers expect, no, demand quality and service. If you don't provide quality and service, you're out of business. So beyond quality and service, what are your clients focused on in their messaging? If quality and service are the necessities, then focusing on what they do beyond the product and how they provide better service, with specific examples, may be better-talking points in their marketing.
Jeff Schmidt is SVP-Professional Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can reach Jeff at jeff.Schmidt@Rab.com or follow him on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn.