What is the Customer Development Cycle? Who is it for? Why was it created? Essentially, it is a theoretical model that is designed to help your organization discover who your customers really are.[Read more…] about Customer Development Cycle
The first time I heard the phrase “manage customer expectations,” it sounded like simple, proactive butt-covering to me. Maybe I heard it that way because of the person making the suggestion, perhaps not the greatest when it came to good delivery of service. But over the years, I’ve come to believe that the right kind of expectation management is the heart of a great service agreement.
In the most powerful case, the management of expectations is actually a collaborative enterprise. Your customer has expectations on what they want done. You have expectations on what can be done. This combination of vision and deep expertise is the context for a level of creativity and high-probability success that can often surprise both parties. It’s awesome when it happens, and sets a strongly optimistic tone for the rest of an engagement.
Vision shaped by expertise: What’s the key here? Within the limits of any time constraints, an overabundance of communication helps to transform the customer’s initial vision into objectives that can be met within the means available. Not only that, but in many cases expertise can help the customer find ways to exceed their vision and achieve even greater outcomes.
But, now, let’s be honest. Few customers are truly visionary, and few service providers in any field have the level of expertise to be truly creative with a customer’s vision. What then?
The stretch for both parties, in these common kinds of cases, remains the overabundance of communication to build some form of collaborative dialog. Let’s add a skill to the service provider. Let’s call it “great investigative skills.” Can the service provider put questions together that draw the customer’s needs and desires into the conversation? If the service provider can, then, alas, we have to ask for another skill. Can the service provider “connect the dots” from the information drawn out of the cutomer to form the path to the customer’s success?
So, let’s review. There are cases when the customer and the service provider simply create magic because of their special skills and intellectual connections.
Then there are the cases where magic doesn’t occur. What are the steps to customer expectation management in these cases?
Overabundanceof communication. Help the customer articulate their needs and desires in terms that you can fulfill.
- To do this, listen carefully for clues on how to compose ongoing questions.
- After careful checking that you have a complete picture of needs and desires, use your expertise to pull together the plan that will meet your customer’s expectations.
In business, the busiest people I know aren’t necessarily the most effective. Doing for the sake of doing is a good way to get in the habit of execution. The habit of execution is more than getting things done, it is the art of doing the right things, at the right time, and for the right people.
Some of the most successful people I know who have made names for themselves in business have an uncanny ability to answer emails almost immediately. They are also really good at getting to the point. Inc’s recent article on email etiquette when dealing with busy people is relevant to anyone who wants to be effective as a person. I’ve added my commentary.
- Keep it short and to the point. I agree. I don’t have time to read a novel. I do that using audible.com
- State your most important ask up front. Easier to decide what to do when I know what the message is about.
- If there are multiple parts to the email, try to break it up into sections. Also, please use clear headings if its complicated.
- Write to one person at a time. I agree, but I cheat here sometimes.
- Make your subject line matter. There are a few folks I know who don’t put a subject in their email.
- Time of day matters. I personally don’t look at my email until later in the day, because I email to work, not work to email.
- Rinse and repeat. Practice makes perfect.
These tips were gathered from Inc – 7 Tips for Emailing Extraordinarily Busy People, but there are numerous resources that can help you become a better email communicator. I’ll be curating them here for your pleasure as they come around. Communicating better is the best way to ensure that you don’t waste people’s time, especially who’s time is more important than yours.