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“There are seven negative factors that contribute to the failure of relationships; namely, cost, time constraints, satisfaction abuse, stress, resource constraints, conflicts, and unmet expectations.” – Mitta Xinindlu.

As a business leader, it’s crucial to understand how customer expectations can affect your relationship with them. When managed effectively, these expectations can help strengthen customer satisfaction and loyalty. But when handled poorly, they could lead to frustration and the loss of current customers or future. This blog discusses the importance of understanding and managing customer expectations so retailers can maintain successful relationships while avoiding unnecessary issues.

What are customer expectations?

Customer expectations are the beliefs, behaviors, or actions individuals anticipate before, during and after interacting with a company. Knowing customers’ expectations helps managers and staff predict customer issues and ensures the business is prepared to deal with them. Retail companies that know their clientele’s expectations can personalize customer service ensuring a seamless customer experience.

Customer Service Expectations 

“Make every interaction count. Even the small ones. They are all relevant.” – Shep Hyken.

The primary objective of customer service is to answer customer inquiries, resolve issues, develop relationships, and enhance business credibility. Consequently, the support retailers provide customers — before and after purchasing a product — facilitates a stress-free, enjoyable experience with a brand, business, or product.

  • 58% Of Customers Will Pay More For Better Customer Service (Forbes)

Most customers expect retail companies to back up their products with professional, knowledgeable, and personalized customer service. For instance, customers expect their online reviews, feedback, and complaints to be heard, respected, and valued.

The following are tips for responding to customer reviews or feedback:

    1. Show gratitude, say “thank you.”
    2. Respond to complaints in a timely manner.
    3. Remain professional and courteous.
    4. Understand and empathize with the customer’s experience (with your business).
    5. Take responsibility, Apologize and offer to resolve the issue
    6.  Practice open listening when talking to frustrated customers
    7.  Be genuine in all circumstances

Customer Quality Expectations

Product quality refers to how well a good satisfies customer needs, serves its purpose, and meets industry standards. Quality is critical to developing and retaining positive relationships with customers.

Customers have quality expectations, (often subjective) therefore, the quality of product or service offerings directly contributes to customer satisfaction, loyalty, sales, and profitability.

“Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. it is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe.” – Stephen King.

Customer expectations about quality in retail apply to products, services, and the overall customer experience. From the shopper’s perspective, product quality is subjective and rooted in emotional connections.

The following questions are an excellent way to evaluate products in a way that recognizes individual needs and wants:

    1. Does the product solve the customer’s problem?
    2. Does the product work as described?
    3. Does the product meet customers’ requirements?
    4. Does customer service provide the right amount of support for the product?

Customers will remain with a company when a product is of good utility, quality and does what it is supposed to do. According to Forbes, 25% of customers are willing to spend 10% more for a product that meets their quality expectations versus a cheaper inferior good.

When customers find a product they trust, they will return to make repeat purchases and recommend the product or service to others.

Knowledgeable Staff Expectations

Product knowledge is an essential sales and customer service skill in the retail business. Knowledgeable staff are able to build trust with customers.

Trust is critical because, it creates positive customer service interactions, and allows salespeople to provide credible, accurate and meaningful product information.

The following are the benefits of employee training and development activities:

  • Makes staff believe in your products.
  • Gives employees more credibility in the eyes of customers,
  • Allows salespeople to tailor their product demonstrations confidently
  • Helps sales associates handle objections and close more sales.

Product knowledge training is an effective way to manage customer expectations. Knowledgeable employees can deliver customers useful and up-to-date information, ensuring they get the right item.

Moreover, employees that know the company’s products inside and out, improve the businesses image and enhances customer confidence in your store..

Customers Expect a Seamless Customer Experience

A Seamless customer experience means creating a cohesive, positive, and trouble-free interaction across business-to-customer touchpoints; from online to in-store to on-the-phone. Moreover, a seamless experience requires omnichannel support to succeed.

From a brick-and-mortar store to purchasing in-app, every customer’s experience should be consistent. Consistent customer experience drives retention, satisfaction, word-of-mouth advertising, and sales, regardless of where or how the customer journey begins.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos 

Why is omnichannel retail important?

Omnichannel means having a consistent customer experience across channels and touchpoints. For example, the website’s design should remain compatible with the mobile app and consistent with the in-store experience. Furthermore, the experience should be the same for customers regardless of the platform or method they choose to interact with.

In sum, omnichannel allows retailers to increase customer access, boost traffic, drive sales and exploit digital access points. An effective omnichannel retail strategy enhances the customer journey and provides more channels for customers to purchase products or utilize services.

Principles for Managing Customer Expectations 

“Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.” – Peter Drucker.

    1. Learn what customers expect from your business: study complaints, feedback, and online reviews. Communicate critical findings to managers and employees.
    2. Establish service values and standards: This will provide an operational template for processes, decisions, and actions.
    3. Provide training & Development opportunities for your staff: Training should be structured and ongoing with clear goals and evaluation criteria. Employees should know the company’s products inside-out.
    4. Develop Metrics for core business processes and review them regularly.
    5. Develop a quality control checklist to ensure the store is clean, organized, and maintained.

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” – Kevin Stirtz

Managing customer expectations is crucial for business leaders to keep customers happy and loyal. With the right approach, you can ensure your customers’ expectations are realistic and manageable. By thoroughly understanding their needs and proactively addressing their concerns, you can build robust relationships with your customers that will last years. Don’t let potential customer dissatisfaction ruin what could otherwise be a long and profitable relationship – take action now to ensure customer expectations are met!

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