Managing Expectations– Critical Difference Between Business Success and Failure: Perceived Value– Promised vs. Delivered…

Managing expectations: Expectation is the act or state of expecting something to happen… an expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen, and a belief that’s centered on the future, which may or may not be realistic…

Expectations are deeper and broader than ‘requirements’… they are a person’s/customer’s vision of a future state or action, usually unstated but which is critical to success… When the ‘law of expectations’ is taken to the extreme, it’s the media’s equivalent of heightened expectations, then it’s world of mind games, it’s– hype, spin, innuendo… and when used ethically, also known as managing expectations…

The six words every business person hates to hear are: You should have managed their expectations. For example: My customer wanted faster delivery… You should have managed their expectations. My customer wanted better performance… You should have managed their expectations. My customer is not satisfied… You should have… and so on.

However, despite all the emphasis on expectations, it’s important to be relaxed about the process; understand that you are dealing with the greatest variable ever– human beings– so if you are seeking a perfect understanding of what people expect, you will forever be frustrated… people’s needs change… markets evolve… and if you attempt to anticipate all of this– you will drive yourself crazy… In business, success can come down to one thing; satisfied customers. Yet, it can also be the most difficult result to achieve.

Perhaps the key to managing expectations is to balance what customers want and what you are capable of delivering. Managing expectations has a lot to do with perceptions, semantics, communication… Here are a few things to consider: Be specific about your customer servicing elements, such that the customer knows what to expect; never assume and don’t guess… Most important; communicate… stay organized… be open and honest…

According to Kevin Eikenberry; when you stop to think about it, expectations form quite a web having multiple connections, for example; your boss’ expectations of you and the organization; your expectations of the boss and the organization; your expectations of yourself… Think about it this way; how can you meet expectations if you don’t know what they are?

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In the article Managing Expectations by David Drennan writes: The ‘laws of expectations’, which determine people’s reaction to actual events, are as follows: Events which match expectations will gain ready acceptance. Events which exceed expectations will produce increasing degrees of happiness, delight.  Events which fall short of expectations will be met by expressions of dissatisfaction. Events which fall well short of expectations will produce increasing degrees of disappointment, complaint and protest...

The implications of these relatively simple laws are far-reaching for anyone involved in management, simply because of the frequency with which such situations occur, whether dealing with employees, customers, or colleagues (or even family and friends). Most of us have had an intuitive awareness about expectations; but, conscious awareness of their importance and power can radically alter how effectively people are managed…

According to Leo Bottary; managing expectations is one of those expressions to which we should pay more attention, but not in the way you might think. For most people, let’s face it, managing expectations is code for lowering expectations. It’s the time-honored practice of promising a Cadillac, but making sure the customer is satisfied if you have to deliver the Chevy…

What I mean by managing expectations is managing your ‘own’ expectations, such that they don’t become obstacles to you, co-workers, customers… Your choices are simple: 1) Respond negatively by clinging to what was supposed to happen; or 2) Embrace what’s about to happen… Your ability to manage your own expectations will indelibly shape your personal brand…

In the article Manage Expectations by David Alev writes: Expectations cut two ways: 1. They are a primary measure of your success: In your customer’s mind satisfaction is how close you have come to their expectations. Not, how close you were to the wording of the contract or the scope of work or even the performance criteria, but to ‘their expectations’. It may not even be the actual results of the project but the process with which you arrive there.

2. Expectations drive all of your customer’s actions and decisions: It’s not their everyday duties or their assigned role or your very rational explanations that drive them, but ‘their expectations’… In this figure, the red line represents client’s expectations, the black line a measure of the value you’re providing and the green line is client’s perception of that value.

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Notice the step down in the expectations line. That indicates expectations that have been successfully reduced. Perceived value is commonly below the actual delivered value, as the results are not always visible, not well explained or publicized. Your objective is to keep the gap between their expectation and the perceived value to a minimum…

My experience has shown that there are several components to managing expectations: Any time I’m asked about an expectations problem I respond with questions: How was the expectation set? Who set it? When did you find out about it? What have you done about it? The real advice is usually hidden in the answers to those questions…

In the article Managing Expectations by Darren Shirlaw writes: Business is about establishing relationships and managing them for the benefit of you and your customers. As a result, every company should be monitoring customer satisfaction as an on-going function. If your surveys show dissatisfaction or if you’re losing business to competitors, then look first at the product/service you offer: Your current contact with customers will fall into one of three categories: ‘Up’, where you are exceeding customer expectations… ‘Neutral’, where you are meeting expectations… ‘Down’, where you are failing to meet expectations…

According to Lisa Woods; managing customer expectations is not only about satisfying the customer but also about providing clarity within your organization, and between your organization and the customer. Clarity sets internal and external expectations. Once you have clarity, you can focus on efficiency… which leads to satisfied customers… So why do so many companies fail at managing customer expectations? Maybe it’s because they spend too much time measuring customer satisfaction and not enough time working together.

Here is an example of two different approaches a company can take: Fix problems to customer’s expectations via corrective actions, or proactively manage expectations to ensure problems do not arise… If you were the customer, which approach would make you happy, loyal and engaged? Which approach does your company take today? Managing customer expectations go beyond customer service… it’s a company culture that needs to be developed and managed. Get everyone involved and become a customer centric organization…

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In the article Golden Rules Of Expectation Management by Yaro Starak writes: The challenge when managing expectations comes down to two variables: Communication and Preconceptions; and to make things especially challenging, each person has different preconceptions based on their unique experiences… Success really comes down to understanding what people want and making sure they get it exactly how they expect to get it… If ‘normal’ is the standard and you deliver something so much better than normal, you win…

Expectations are based on what has come before; it’s important to be aware of; what is the accepted practice in your industry? And how you can do better… Managing expectations is about saying– what will the customer experience after they buy? Then, ask yourself if you’ve done a good enough job explaining about that experience to the customer before they buy…

According to Fieldwork; a major difference between usability in the sense of functionality and usability has a lot to do with people’s expectations. Indeed, expectations affect usability in several ways. Let me state three ways: Ambiguous– or worse– misguided expectations lead to non-use… People’s expectations affect the way they experience a product when they use it… A product/service that delivers on people’s expectations will, by definition, be more satisfying than one for which expectations and experiences don’t align well…

The failure to manage expectations is at least as big a culprit as the failure to make products with practical usage profiles… Managing expectations can be a real balancing act: Promise too much and people are destined to be disappointed. Promise too little and people won’t try your product…

Managing expectations is about perception, positive perceptions are critical for the success of enterprises. If the expectations of all parties involved are not clearly understood, miscommunication can easily occur resulting in; you guessed it– lost business, revenue, valued staff members… According to Frank Sonnenberg; a good precept to follow is to under-promise but over-deliver. Always try to do just a little more than the client expects.

According to Marc Angel; if you go into every day expecting that there should be universal acceptance of your ideas and thoughts, you set yourself up for disappointment: You are not in this world to live up to the expectations of others, nor should you feel that others are here to live up to yours. In fact, the more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less approval you need from everyone else There’s an old expression: He who expects little is seldom disappointed; which bring up the topic of managing expectations of customers and others by ‘under promise and over deliver’.

The premise is simple: Don’t make overblown claims that get a person’s hopes up, only to disappoint them when you can’t deliver. Instead, make attainable promises that set realistic expectations, and then deliver in a way that exceeds those expectations… According to Robert Cordray; in order to successfully implement the ‘under promise and over deliver’ strategy, companies need to understand that it has less to do with lowering the bar on the ‘promise’ end, and all to do with raising the bar on the ‘deliver’ end. After all, no successful business was ever built on a weak promise. Only by offering the best possible promise– a promise that stretches limitations– and then going the extra mile to exceed the customers’ expectations, can a company experience the satisfaction and success that comes from, not just meeting, but exceeding its own expectations…

According to Annie Scranton; managing expectations is the single most important aspect to maintaining a healthy and rewarding relationship with customers… Reputation is everything; here are five steps I always try to follow for managing expectations: Be honest from the get-go; Under-promise and over-deliver; Anticipate customer’s needs before they know their own needs; Constant communication. In managing customer expectations; honesty is the best policy. Even if you have to turn down some business; making promises you cannot keep is not good business practice. Failure to live up to customer expectations will cost you business– it’s that simple…