Expectation vs. Reality: Exceeding Customer Expectations
Each one of us is a customer. In some way, and in some form, we have all purchased goods or services. Daily, we interact with people who are the faces for the companies they represent. The cashier at the gas station, the stock person at the store, the customer service representative on the phone. Each controls the reality of our expectation for how we feel we should be treated as customers.
Our expectations are formed by past experiences, customer input, and company reputation. In each one of these cases, the reality of our expectation has the potential to be met, fall below, or be exceeded. The latter being what we as the providers of services should strive for daily. Continually exceeding customer expectations not only builds a reputation that can be trusted, it shows that we know what customers expect and that we are here to serve them. Roy H. Williams said this about customer expectation, “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectation is to know those expectations.” Let me share one of my experiences with you in which a company did just that.
Around January of this year, amidst our Tennessee ice storm, I came out to my car one morning to find that my windshield had cracked. From left to right, across the entire span of the windshield. It needed a replacement and this is where my customer service experience starts. I called the only name I was familiar with (probably because I’d heard their numerous radio ads and seen a few of their TV commercials) SafeLite AutoGlass.
Upon speaking with a representative, he asked for my name and a good contact number in case we got disconnected. Not only that, I was greeted with a friendly tone. As we talked over my situation, I was notified that because of the storm, the earliest I could get in was Thursday. Totally understandable, the day of my call was Tuesday and a few days weren’t going to hurt. As I scheduled my appointment, I was asked for my email address for confirmation. After my call concluded, I had a notification on my phone. It was a calendar invite from SafeLite for Thursday at 3pm. The calendar entry even had the address to the repair shop and phone number. SafeLite’s representative took care of everything for me. Expectation exceeded. I didn’t have to think of a thing or even write the appointment down.
As I arrived for my windshield to be repaired, I walked into the shop and let them know that I had scheduled an appointment. They asked for the appointment number (which I had from the awesome calendar invite), and this is what happened next. “Hello Luke, thank you for coming in today. Please feel free to help yourself to some coffee and cookies if you’d like. We will be with you shortly.” My phone experience had been so good, that my expectation for the repair shop was set high. SafeLite didn’t disappoint. Shortly after sitting down, the repair technician came out, introduced himself, gave me an estimate on the amount of time I could expect to be waiting and let me know that my windshield would be replaced shortly.
I didn’t have anywhere to be, and patiently waited while my car was serviced. After the new windshield had been applied, the technician came out a second time to give me a status update and that it would be about 45 minutes for the adhesive to dry before the car was drivable. “No problem at all” I replied. There is tremendous value to the customer in providing updates. I was impressed with the frequency in which I was updated. Never once did I have to check with the front desk to see how long it would be. I was kept up to date by the technician and that exceeded my expectation.
As I got ready to leave, the technician came out a third time to give me my keys and paperwork and let me know that he would be bringing my car around in just a moment.
My expectation for SafeLite was not only exceeded, it was consistent. Each time I interacted with a representative, my experience was effortless and completely enjoyable. SafeLite delivered on every expectation I had and exceeded during every interaction. SafeLite not only took care of my reported problem, they supported me as a person along the way. They have earned my repeat business and recommendation. It is so important to support the customer. By supporting people we are enabling greater relationships and customer satisfaction.