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3 Actionable Tips For Managing Customer Expectations

Andy DeAngelis
November 27, 2019

When it comes to the customer experience, there's a few things that hold true no matter what department you're in. Give your customers a voice. Act on their feedback. Be a human.

But if there's one area that just about every company could stand to improve on, it's managing customer expectations. That's not because they don't want to get it right, it's just a difficult thing to do - especially when it comes to customer support.

Often times, the most frustrating support calls are the ones where you're told that "your issue will be resolved shortly" or "we'll have this fixed as soon as we can." To be fair, those statements are always spoken with the best intentions, but the reality is that they don't give you any real information.

The truth is, most people would rather understand how you're going to solve their problem and establish a realistic timeline for resolution. When your support team is transparent about their process and expectations, customers gain more of an appreciation for the work they're doing.

Here are 3 ways to make sure that your support team is managing customer expectations effectively.

Find the root of the problem

Here's a major reason that's it's important to hire good communicators for your support team: often times, the issue that a customer notices is a symptom of a larger problem. That's why it's essential to have people on your team that make finding root causes a priority (as opposed to say, closing support tickets as fast as possible). Speed to resolution is important, but not as important as providing the right resolution in the long run.

Think about it. If a support rep rushes to close a ticket as quickly as they can by simply addressing what they're being told at surface-level, all they're doing is creating a short-term win at the expense of the overall experience. There's a good chance that your customer will face the same issue down the road, which will lead to 2 things:

  • Frustration on the customer's part because they're facing a recurring issue with your product or service
  • Longer waits for other customers because your support reps are re-working a ticket that was previously thought to be resolved

By doing the work up-front, your team is naturally managing customer expectations. When someone calls for help with an issue and hangs up believing that it's fixed, the last thing you want is for them to run into it again down the road.

Discuss and provide real timelines

This goes back to the support call example. Again, while general statements about resolution timelines are given with the best intentions, they don't mean anything. Of course your team will "get to work on resolving this right away" - that's what your customer expects when they open a ticket!

Instead, be specific. Once you're sure you fully understand the problem, talk through it with your customer. Meet them at their technical level and explain the different ways you're going to try to create a solution. By doing that, you're not just managing customer expectations - you're likely helping them understand the real scope of their problem.

Once you've done that, it's much easier to establish a realistic timeline for resolution. And in many cases, your customer will be a bit more patient once they understand the complexity of their problem and what you're doing to fix it.

Provide consistent updates

This is a point that many companies have to hammer home with technical support reps - you're not failing each time one of your attempts to resolve a ticket doesn't work. You're simply eliminating the things that don't work. Each time you rule out a possible resolution, you're one step closer to solving the problem.

Managing customer expectations has as much to do with proactive outreach as it does responsiveness. When you've ruled out a set of possible solutions, reach out to your customer to let them know where things stand before trying the next thing.

By doing that, you're showing them that you're actively working their problem, instead of leaving things to their imagination. I don't know about you, but when I don't hear back on something, I tend to assume it's not as much of a priority as I'd like it to be.

On the flip side, if someones opens a support ticket, gets a rundown of possible solutions with a realistic timeline, and receives proactive updates from the team that's working on the problem, they at least have the peace of mind that comes with being completely in the loop.

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