“If you can differentiate yourself from your competitors by exceeding clients’ expectations, they will be talking about you all over town. You will turn the average happy client into an active and passionate brand ambassador!”
For most firms, just meeting clients’ expectations would be enough to provide for a good enough experience and result in a satisfied client. In today’s highly competitive environment, just meeting clients’ expectations is simply not enough. Exceeding clients’ expectations is the new norm if you want to keep your clients happy, loyal and turn them into brand advocates.
Professional service is all about creating a memorable experience (every time), and the firm that knows and understands what clients value the most, physically and emotionally, will be in a great position to design an emotionally based experience, deliver on this experience and exceed their expectations.
Doing the basics right – e.g. delivering quick service, charging a price the client is willing to pay and offering the features and benefits that clients expect from your services – will simply keep the client satisfied, but certainly won’t exceed expectations. One of the biggest dangers firms face is the people (read staff) that think they know what a client wants and expects. What should a professional services firm do to exceed their clients’ expectation? Here are five action steps to take to a) identify your clients’ expectations, and b) design an experience to exceed these expectations:
The decision to manage the emotional expectation of the client starts and ends with the management and leaders in the business. If it is important to them, it becomes important to all the staff. Step 1 is therefore the buy-in and commitment from management, while Step 2 is what to manage and how to manage the emotional expectations of the clients. Setting out guidelines for areas like courtesy, hospitality and communication, as well as how these expectations will be exceeded, is crucial for measuring and managing these expectations.
Client behaviour is unpredictable and constantly changing – so trying to exceed expectations can easily become a guessing game. Firms that have a serious desire to exceed emotional expectations, start by making a point to find out what these expectations are – during every step and moment of the customer journey. From first contact to final service delivery, firms should get the relevant information from clients through research and documentation of their expectation in their current experience. Develop formal and informal methods to determine and understand their expectations.
Policies and procedures
Knowing what clients expect and addressing those expectations are two very different things. The client-centric firm puts the blueprints in place for everyone to know, follow and execute. By putting in place the necessary client service policies and procedures, a platform for training, skills development, implementation and accountability is established.
One thing all client-centric firms know is that client expectations change. What might have been working well last year, might not be enough this year. Become a learning origination that uses every opportunity to gain knowledge and insight into clients’ needs and expectation. Constantly review clients’ expectations during every moment of truth.
Very often, exceeding a client’s expectation requires more than mere lip service and a friendly smile. All staff require the necessary resources. Client-centric firms are very mindful of the fact that, to exceed expectations, requires the necessary budget. A budget allocated to exceed clients’ expectation, should be in place and will enable the staff (or team responsible) to take action in cases where it is needed to surprise or delight customers. Whether it is to upgrade the reception area for a more profession first-impression and relaxed experience, to putting together a welcome-pack for all new clients, there should be the financial resources to make it possible. The expense now will far outweigh the benefit later!
By taking these five steps into account, and actively investing in them, a firm has an opportunity to set itself apart and create a “win” situation for every client, every day. If you can differentiate yourself from your competitors by exceeding clients’ expectations, they will be talking about you all over town. You will turn the average happy client into an active and passionate brand ambassador!
For more information contact Tobie vd Merwe at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.