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Customer Expectations: What They Are and How to Exceed Them

Customers are the reason why every business exists. But what is meant by “customer expectations?” One could argue that the relationship is purely transactional. Your business sells something. The customer buys it. You deliver. Case closed. But is it really? Since all of us, no matter what line of business we are in, are customers of other businesses too, we know that we expect something more. But knowing it and putting it into words are two different things. 

A clear understanding of customer service expectations can help us to transcend the purely transactional way of doing business, building customer relationships and earning customer loyalty. The benefits of that are easy to see: repeat business and referrals mean more sales for every customer you win over. So what are customer expectations and how can you exceed them? Let’s unpack this together. 

Customer Expectations Definition and Examples

Let’s break this definition up into bite-sized chunks with easy examples:

Basic expectations: When customers buy your products, they expect a certain result or benefit that improves their lives in one way or another. 

For example: If you buy a coat, you expect it to look good and keep you warm in winter. Apart from that, you expect it to last for a time – probably a few years.

Behavioural expectations: Customers expect good service, assistance with making choices (if needed), and support if they have issues after they made the purchase.

Example: When you buy your coat, you expect to find a helpful shop assistant to be available on request. Although you may prefer to browse on your own, you might decide you need the coat in a different colour or size, or if you don’t see what you want, you might want to enquire whether the business stocks something similar to what you had in mind. 

If you were to discover a problem with your coat after taking it home, you’d expect the store to be willing to address your issue, and you’d expect the same “service with a smile” that you experienced before making the purchase. 

Exceeding expectations: When your business exceeds expectations, the product and the service are even better than your customers expect. They’re thrilled!

Using our customer expectations example: Let’s imagine that you notice that your coat is even better than you thought it would be for the price you paid. What’s more, you get a message from the store thanking you for your support and asking you if you’re satisfied with your purchase. But a few days later, you notice a problem. You’re not expecting the store to do anything about it, but you let them know anyway. To your surprise, they not only sympathise but are willing to address your issue – and they do it quickly and effectively. 

“Wow!” you say to yourself. “What an excellent shop! I’m so glad I was smart enough to buy my coat there!” You then proceed to tell your friends about what happened, and the next time you buy a coat – you know exactly where you want to go to get one!

This is what you want for your business. But how can you achieve it?

Know Your Customers: Give Them What They Want – and More

The best way to exceed customer expectations is to know them. You can try putting yourself in their shoes as a good first step, but the best way to find out what they want and whether your business is delivering that, is to ask for feedback. Sometimes, customers will tell you things that make you feel proud and happy, but your critics give you the most valuable information. 

There are many ways to encourage customers to give feedback, but very often, your own customer service personnel can tell you even more about what customers like, what they don’t like, and what they absolutely love. Add a layer of technology to the analysis of customer expectations and you’ll soon uncover frequently asked questions, recurring issues, and interactions that met expectations, exceeded them, or failed to satisfy your customers

Obstacles to Exceeding Customer Expectations

For a busy enterprise, the goal of exceeding customer expectations can seem like an unrealistic one. All-too-many businesses think it’s about offering freebies or pandering to the whims of unreasonable or high-maintenance customers. With operational demands high on the agenda, some companies adopt a “nobody’s got time for that” approach, and it comes as no surprise that their customers soon spot it. 

Failing to exceed, or at least meet, customer expectations is a blunder few businesses can afford to make. While you might think your product has it all, your competitors are quite likely to have something similar. If they offer great customer service into the bargain, the battle for sales will be won by the company that shows it respects and appreciates its customers. 

According to a survey, around 58 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they can be sure of getting great service. With this in mind, the race to the bottom on pricing just isn’t worth joining – and an investment in customer service will benefit you far more – supposing your products generally meet expectations. 

However, as your business grows and expands beyond the borders of your country, keeping up with customers’ service requirements can be a big ask. It would be difficult enough if traffic volumes remained constant, but they don’t. What you need is a scalable solution that offers your customers the service you’d give them if they were your ONLY customer and not just a face in the crowd. Believe it or not: it’s entirely possible!

Your Customer Service Expectations: the Solution

Giving your customers the service you’d like to offer, meeting their expectations, exceeding them, and providing you with insights into their experiences is our speciality. At RSVP, we get to know your business and we get to know your customers. We represent your company as well or better than any in-house team could, and we do it around the clock: a sweeping claim? We know we’ve earned the right to make it! Put our customer service and support to the test. We’ll exceed your expectations – and those of your customers! Contact us today.

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