How to manage expectations and gain high client satisfaction
When people do business with you, they automatically have an expectation as to how that will look and feel for them. They will have expectations over how they are treated, what the experience will involve and how they will feel as a result. Do you wonder how you will need to manage expectations and gain high client satisfaction without it feeling hard work.
Unfortunately, clients will often only share these expectations and experiences with others, when they’re either singing the praises of your company, or telling people about a negative experience they’ve had!
Part of their expectations will be based on the general feelings they have, on the industry you’re in. This can be, in part, dictated by how the media and social media etc portray the industry as a whole. The rest of someone’s expectations are around how they’re treated, whilst doing business with you – right from the moment they arrive on your website. There are for instance, some industries that are known for exceptional customer service. If you’re in those industries and your business only has average customer service standards, your business will stand out for the wrong reasons. If however, you’re in an industry that’s seen as one with low expectations, your business may stand out for being better than average!
The only part you really have control over, is how your clients feel about your business. So, how can you manage client expectations, so your business is seen as a company that has high client satisfaction?
Have the right mindset
It all starts with you being in the right headspace. You need to be focusing on providing a great service to your clients. This means you also need to make your clients, your focus. If your focus is solely on the money or reaching a certain level, your clients aren’t the centre of your attention. This doesn’t mean you can’t have monetary or status goals – but it does mean your head needs to primarily be focused on how to provide what your customers need – and delivering it in the best way you know how. For more on being in the right mindset, check out this recent blog post: For VA business success, you need to stop focusing on you.
How available are you?
Managing client expectations starts with how available you are. This can start at website level. Do you portray yourself as approachable and reachable, open and honest – yet your clients have to search for your contact and pricing information? Do you make it clear how clients and potential clients can reach you, as well as when you’re available? When you work with clients, do you ensure they always have your contact details, know when you’re available, as well as the average turnaround time for responses? Make it easy, simple and clear! (If you want to brush up on your telephone manner, check out this blog post on Telephone etiquette).
Treat your clients like people – valued people
Another simple, yet powerful way to manage expectation is how you address and speak to your clients. Not only will this set a precedent for the level of formality you’re at, it’s also a sign of respect. For example, do you use Mr, Miss or Mrs, or do you address them by first name? When you’re sending out emails, do you even use their name at all? When clients contact you, do you respond personally, through your assistant or via an automated bot? People like to be valued – and addressing them by name (and personally responding) is a great start.
Treating clients as valued people also extends to how you deal with things when they go wrong. Often, how you handle a complaint or mistake shows more about how much you value your clients, than the day-to-day interactions you have with them.
Set out customer expectations on your website
Make doing business with you easy
When clients come to do business with you, you need to make the entire process as simple and painless as possible. What does the typical customer journey look like, when they choose you? It’s a great idea to sit and map this out, not only for yourself, but so you can see what areas need tidying up or simplifying. You can then ensure each step of that journey is made as simple and easy as possible for them.
For example, when they agree to work with you, what happens next? What paperwork do you need to send them and how will this be delivered? When they start working with you, how will that look for them and what do they need to provide? How often will they have a review, and how will that look? Do they have to call you or do you call them? What happens if they have a complaint – how do you deal with this? This is the type of information that can be portrayed with a FAQ section on your site, or a simple flow diagram, that shows them what the journey and timescale will be.
Be knowledgeable in your area of expertise
Expectations are also set by how you showcase your expertise and share that knowledge with others. If you’re knowledgeable about something, share it widely. Be proud of what you know and ensure you’re always giving that value to others, in the form of guest blogs/interviews/podcasts, sharing it on your own website, and also being visible and present with it on social media. You can also show your expertise by adding logos for any awards you’ve won and associations you’re a member of, as well as links to articles and interviews etc you have done on other sites and platforms.
Understand your ideal customer
The better you know your ideal customer, the more you can manage their expectations. When you know them and talk with them, you’re gleaning valuable insights into their frustrations, pain points and worries. The more you know them and spend time with them, the more you’ll be able to find solutions for them. The more you help them, the more they’ll value you and be happy with the services you provide. But it all starts with understanding your ideal customer.
Always follow up
Finally, never underestimate the importance of following up. Following up with a potential, past or current client gives you a brilliant opportunity to raise client satisfaction levels and expectations about you and your business. For example, if they had an issues that you want to follow up on, was the issue resolved? How did they find the whole experience, and could it be improved at all? Following up after the end of a contract could lead to a new contract being taken out, and asking if you can help them with anything else could lead to more work, further down the line.
If you’d like to see how else following up can benefit you, check out this recent blog post on The importance of following up. Suffice to say, you need to always be following up, at every stage of your business. Not only could it lead to more work and more clients, it can also help you tighten up your services and practices, help you manage client expectations better, as well as giving you even more opportunity to raise client satisfaction levels even higher than they previously were.
When people do business with you, they automatically have an expectation as to how that will look and feel for them. Often, the first you know about their response to those things, is when they share their experiences with others. However, you can ensure you’re doing all you can, to manage those client expectations during their journey with you, by following the tips above – and ensuring you do everything in your power to make that time a pleasurable experience for everyone involved.
What strategies do you have in place, to manage client expectations? Do you agree with the points made above, or do you have a strategy that isn’t mentioned above? Why not share your thoughts, strategies and ideas on client satisfaction and expectations, in the comments box below. One whole module of the VA Mastery Course is given over to this important subject – if you are looking to create an awesome and authentic VA business, one where you manage expectations and gain high client satisfaction – then check out our award winning VA Mastery Course today.