Noomi Codon


From inside an organization, it can be easy to think that a good customer experience is determined by the quality of the individual interactions you deliver. However, things look much different from the customer’s perspective. One of the most important learnings in becoming a customer-centric company is that customer opinions about any interaction are influenced by the expectations they bring — about how much your products will cost, how they fit customer needs, and what support you can offer at different stages of the relationship.
And unfortunately, there are times when these expectations aren’t easy to meet. Sometimes they’re based on incorrect information. Sometimes the employee at hand simply isn’t aware of what the customer has already been promised. But regardless of the reason behind an unmet expectation — and despite your best efforts to resolve the misunderstanding — the customer will still often leave the encounter feeling dissatisfied.
So how can you prevent these situations? Here are some of the strategies that we have found effective.
As a first step, we’ve found that it’s important to get different parts of the organization on the same page about how different customer expectations tend to form — and how they impact later interactions. We use Medallia to collect customer feedback from every touchpoint and aggregate it into views of entire customer journeys. We also have a cross-functional customer experience team that includes leaders from sales, implementation and support. This team regularly reviews insights from aggregated feedback to identify recurring missed expectations and develop solutions. Then, the representatives from each department evangelize the solutions to the rest of their colleagues.
One recent push from this cross-functional team was ensuring our sales team’s understanding of price, product capabilities and implementation timelines was consistent with our customer promise. After determining from customer feedback that certain sales promises weren’t always in line with what our billing and implementations teams typically offered, we developed strategies keep salespeople up-to-date about our services and help them record individual promises that other teams needed to know about. The initiative led to an increase in our overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) for medium- and large-sized clients.
Another way we help employees communicate the customer promise is through regular training. We teach employees from every team about the expectations customers commonly bring to different moments in the relationship. We also show them how the promises they make at different moments affect customer experiences in the long term, and which specific expectations have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction.
We use customer feedback to develop training curricula around expectation-setting and as examples in individual lessons. Insights from aggregated feedback allow us to know that we’re addressing expectation-setting issues our employees are running into the most. And for specific lessons, we’ve found that presenting problems from the customer’s perspective — and in their own words — is far more impactful than just showing how they affect key metrics. It’s easier for employees to understand the importance of a consistent customer promise when they can see the human impact of an inconsistent one.
One final thing to consider about managing customer expectations is when to stop doing it. Sometimes the best approach to an inaccurate expectation is to head it off right from the start using the tips I’ve suggested here. But just as often, these situations reveal ways in which your company can adapt and innovate to meet changing customer needs. Translating unmet expectations into new product features or services requires plenty of additional work and collaboration, but it also gives you confidence about what will make your customers happiest in the long run.
Find out more about RingCentral’s customer experience transformation — download the case study using the form to the right!