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Jelly Beans and Expectations

Customer expectations are high and organizations are constantly challenged to meet, or dare I say to exceed expectations.  Interestingly, I do not think many organizations can definitively state their customer expectations, can you?  Go ahead and ask,  before your head of sales, marketing or anyone else with a fancy title reads this, ask them: “What do our customers expect?” I also believe that the bar is continually changing. Asking the question above often receives a “we do not simply want to meet expectations, we want to exceed expectations!” Great, you are not really sure what expectations are, but the bar has just been reset!

Think through the following: You walk into the local candy shop and the person behind the counter weighs out the 1/2 pound of Jelly Beans (Strawberry Cheesecake, if you must know). After they weigh it, they affix the little sticky with the weight and price. Before they seal the bag, they throw in another small scoop of Jelly Beans. Your expectations have just been met and maybe even exceeded. Now, what do you expect the very next time you walk into the candy shop? This is obviously an over simplistic view of the world. Take the conversation to cars, houses, software, insurance policies, mobile phone, cable and Internet provider, the list goes on and how do things change?

Expectations Around Service are Different, or are They?

The hyper-connected, mobile, choosier, but ‘I am your customer’ demands simplicity and is less tolerant of business-driven organizational procedures. Customer experiences are made up of interactions and touch points with the people, products and services a company provides to them. The connection – you might say the emotional connection –  between customers and an organization consist of the sum of these experiences. The simple question is; “Are you organized in such a way to accelerate your company’s ability to deliver a 21st century experience to the 21st century customer?”

Extending the Jelly Bean example to more complex organizations is hard. For one, it is harder for these organizations to simply give you something extra with regards to service or product. I suppose that you could get a few extra minutes on your mobile phone, but if calls were dropping in the first place, then I am not sure what that does for you. As organizations decide to offer new and different channels, they might be giving the appearance of an increased level of service, but for the general population, did anything really change? You have now met the expectations on these new channels, because you are there. Well, maybe, kinda sorta, for the few that are yelling and screaming on Social channels you may have now met expectations. Did you just reset the bar on Social channels too? Did you invite more people to yell and scream?

I am excited to spend a few minutes with friends and super smart CRM folks Paul Greenberg and David Myron next week, for Webinar.  The discussion will be light and we are going to have some fun (probably at my expense) and talk through some of the fun and maybe not-so-fun issues people who think about customer service stay up at night wondering about – basically that Customers are fickle. They change and are changing the way they communicate with each other – and your business – and this change is happening at a frenetic pace. Last year’s never-ending debate was the definition of Social CRM, thankfully, this year we have moved on. I can promise you that we will NOT talk about definitions, Cloud Computing nor Software-As-A-Service, we will focus on the fundamentals of customer service and keep the topic focused on business issues.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • raybrown99 February 18, 2011, 5:20 AM

    Hi Mitch I spend time with clients (mostly SME) getting them clear on what constitutes their “standard” offering and what constitutes an “extra”. Very often they don’t know this and it’s easy for an “extra” to be absorbed into the “standard” customer expectation. The classic is the golf day, an “extra” in year one but it easily becomes a standard. “See you next year”!!
    Looking forward to your webinar. I’d be interested to ask your panel if they see any signs of the “strands” of customer centricity: CRM, CEM, Scrm, outside-in, process improvement etc coming together in any meaningful way.