Your customers evaluate the service you provide based on how well you meet their expectations. They believe they have received good service when you have met their expectations, poor service when you have fallen short of their expectations, and outstanding service when you have exceeded their expectations.
Sometimes, two customers can view the same experience very differently.
How can you provide outstanding service if you can’t be all things to all people and customers have infinitely variable expectations? The answer lies in how you manage customer expectations and then adapt your service to meet their needs.
One caveat when setting expectations is that customers tend to hear what they want to hear. For example—if a client requests a report and is told her report will be ready in two to three days, the client is likely to hear “two days.” It’s always better to say “three days” if that’s the longest it will take. If the report is ready in three days, the customer will be satisfied. If it is ready in two days, you have an opportunity to exceed expectations by sending the report out early.
Many of us have heard of the Golden Rule, which suggests that we treat customers the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule is an upgraded version that suggests we treat customers the way they want to be treated. This requires employees to listen carefully, ask questions, and adapt their service to each individual customer.