If your marketing and customer service strategies do not meet somewhere, your customers will fall through the gap. Having an understanding of how these two departments come together for the customer experience is critical to delighting your customer throughout their relationship with your company. After all, the customer will look at these functions as coming from the company as a whole, as independent departments.
With marketing’s job being to have the first contact with a customer and customer service happening much further down the the customer life cycle, these two departments seemingly have no overlapping strategy. But, we know this is simply not true based on research which indicates that the customer expectations set by marketing in the beginning have a significant impact on customer service’s ability to please a customer later on.
To put it simply: marketing meets customer service at the point of expectations.
How Can Customer Expectations Affect a Business?
Research has found that customers reacted to product issues less negatively when they had a good relationship with the business to begin with. The American Marketing Association published an article titled, “How Customers Become the Worst Enemies or the Best Friends”. The article discusses key research findings that explain the connection between marketing and customer relationships.
We already knew that disconfirmation, i.e., exceeding or falling short of customer’s expectations, can change customers satisfaction and loyalty; but now we know that when a customer has a good relationship with the company, they will allow the company a wider window to provide correcting service.
We all have expectations. We expect the grocery store to have fresh produce, and that Amazon will deliver your product on time. Expectations are a part of our everyday lives. Relational expectations add a new layer. Most people will tell you that to be in a fulfilling and successful relationship, it must be reciprocal and certain expectations must be met such as being honest and loyal.
Regarding businesses, it can be argued that relational expectations are weighted more heavily than most others. Further research shows that relational expectations and the type of disconfirmation combine to rule whether or not a specific event will change the nature of the relationship.
Customer Expectations as It Relates to Marketing
Typically, it is the role of customer service to ensure a strong relationship with customers. How does marketing come into the picture? The goal of marketing is to make potential customers aware of your brand. It is the job of a marketer to set the customer’s expectations. It is important that the marketing team then further their connection with other customer service departments to make sure that expectations are being not only met, but exceeded. Reciprocity at its best!
Creating a good relationship with a new customer and exceeding their expectations can go a long way and may be the best marketing campaign out there. What makes this interesting is that a good beginning does not always mean a good end. In other words, if you build trustworthy and loyal relationships to begin with, this will make it harder to meet or exceed expectations once the loyal customer’s expectations rise. Therefore, you must be very careful in how you maintain your relationship with customers, especially the loyal ones.
Managing Customer Expectations to Improve Satisfaction
Okay, now for some practical advice. What can you do to make sure you are going above and beyond as a marketer? After doing some research, here are some suggestions to take into consideration. The old time phrase, “slow and steady wins the race” is the perfect way to understand that quality customer service is far more valuable than solving a customer’s issue as quickly as possible.
In other words, customers would rather you take a little more time with them to guarantee that their problem be resolved than solving it quickly just to move onto the next customer. Now that you have more time to speak to the customer, CONNECTION IS KEY. Rather than sticking to a script, try to connect with your customer on a personal, yet “appropriate” level. They need to feel as if they are not just a number, but a person whose concerns and worries will be understood.
It is important to think outside of the box. Traditional marketing may suggest to print an advertisement in a newspaper, or to air a commercial on T.V. While those marketing avenues may be successful, think carefully about what you want and expect from a company. Think about the relationships you have and the expectations that follow. It may sound a bit extreme, but buying a product is like entering into a relationship with whichever company you bought from. You are trusting them that what they have provided you with will work and enhance your life.
It is the marketer’s job to make potential customers not only aware, but also confident that they are about to enter into a worthwhile relationship. If these expectations are not at least met, it can be detrimental. Don’t be afraid to dive in and really make efforts to create strong and lasting relationships with your customers.