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Managing Expectations

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I've just returned from a short break in the country. Batteries fully recharged, and invigorated by all that fresh-air and exercise. It was nice to have no agenda, and that included what, where and when we would eat.

One particular evening, we walked to the (only) local pub that served food. We got there at peak time, were greeted pleasantly, and then we asked for a menu. The owner informed us that they were unusually busy, and so waiting times for food were currently about 1 hour. We had our two young children with us, so this wasn't great, but as there was nowhere else nearby, we said OK. So for the next hour, we played eye-spy (probably to the annoyance of the regulars) to pass the time.

An hour and ten minutes later, our food arrived with an apology for the wait. It was OK. We ate, we paid, we left.

So what is the point of this blog? Well, its a simple lesson in customer service. Were we delighted with the service? No, of course not. Were we angry/upset/annoyed? No... because the owner managed our expectations. Had he not had the guts to tell us that the wait was so long, we would certainly have been complaining. He delivered against most of the tips on our Key Points sheet.

So the lesson is: manage expectations. Be open and honest, and tell the customer the 'bad' news as soon as they can. Let THEM make the decision about what they will accept and what they won't. Good customer service isn't always about 'wowing' the customer - sometimes its just about respecting them. 

If you know a team who would benefit from customer service training, our Power Hour session (which lasts 1-2 hours) provides a great introduction. Why not check it out?

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