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Great Expectations

In business, setting the expectations of customers, staff and suppliers is critical. Often, they will judge you not against an absolute standard, but against what they expect. For instance, the expectations on phoning an overseas call centre can be very low - so it may be relatively easy to please a caller. On the other hand, a visit to The Ritz may be eagerly anticipated, and easily disappointed. Which is why following a recent visit I shall never be returning there again.

We have to work hard to set expectations, but they must be reasonable and the cost must work too. Miss this part out and we will have big problems. So we mustn't deliver a Tata Motors People's Car if we charge for a Rolls Royce. Unfortunately, it's more common for customers to expect a Rolls when they have paid for a Tata. That's life, but it's down to us to educate them.

I recently dropped off an outboard motor for a service. Before they would accept it, the company told me it would be at least three weeks before they did the job. It's a long time, but I'm not angry that I'm still waiting, because they set my expectations correctly up front.

After simple delivery, setting expectations is the most important business tool for nurturing good relations with staff, suppliers and customers. Too bad it's not talked about more.

By Chris Barling, CEO, Sellerdeck. Originally published in

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