Managing customers’ expectations

Home Al’s Column Managing customers' expectations

proactive communicationBy Adam Joss Do you like to fly? How about turbulence? Many times, when I’m flying, I feel completely comfortable. Whether I am listening to music, reading or just relaxing, it’s smooth sailing. Then, all of a sudden, the plane jolts up, then down. The fasten seat belt bell dings. At that point, I start looking at the expressions of the flight attendants and listening to engine sounds as if I actually know what sound they should make. Silence from the cockpit naturally leads me to think the worst is happening. I find this is the experience on many flights. However, not all.

Certain airlines and pilots understand the importance of “proactive communication.” As such, they set proper expectations. “Good day, everyone,” the pilot says. “I hope you’re enjoying your ride. The radar is showing some choppy air ahead so I’m going to go ahead and put the fasten seat belt sign on now. We should have a few bumps for the next 15 minutes and then it’s smooth sailing. I’ll come back on and let you know if anything changes along the way.” When I hear those calming words, I can relax no matter how bumpy the ride is.

As it turns out, proactive communication and setting proper expectations can help you grow your business. By proactive communication I mean sharing information before you’re asked for it. After all, we live in a world in which we have a tremendous amount of information available to us. We used to wonder when the pizza delivery was coming. Now, we open the Domino’s app and see exactly where our pizza is. We used to wonder when our taxi was coming. Now we open the Uber app and see exactly where our ride is. The driver’s name, picture and rating, too.

How can you use proactive communication to grow your business? Following are a few situations that apply:

Heading out to a measure or in-home sales appointment. Call or text your customer one hour ahead of time to remind her of the appointment and let her know that you’re excited to see her soon. Your prospect will appreciate it and be more willing to give you her order.

When dealing with material backorders. Set reminders to track the material and provide updates to your customer along the way. You can empathize and share in the “journey” together, and you’ll likely have fewer complaining customers.

When dealing with a manufacturer’s claim. Inform your customer from the start that this can be a lengthy process, but rest assured that “I’m fighting for you. I’m going to continually check in with the manufacturer and provide you updates along the way.” Then, after some time passes, send her a text or email: “Hey Sara. I just called XYZ company and was told that the sample was received, and we’ll have an answer tomorrow.”

On installation day. Just as you did when you scheduled a measurement, call one hour ahead to let the customer know when she can expect you. This is especially helpful if you provide a wide window when initially setting the installation appointment. Remember, when customers don’t have enough information, their mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario…“They’re not showing up” or, worse, “I guess my business isn’t important to them.”

So, be sure to set proper expectations and proactively communicate. This is a simple tactic but one that’s guaranteed to lead to better experiences for your customers. And better experiences lead to more repeat and referral business.


Adam Joss is president of The Vertical Connection Carpet One, a multi-location dealer based in Columbia, Md. Joss is currently an ad-hoc board member of CCA Global Partners, current Carpet One Advisory Council member and past-president of the Mid-Atlantic Floor Covering Association.

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July 12/19, 2021

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