Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. And if the other person doesn’t understand what you’re conveying, they could have an expectation that’s unrealistic.
Noted below are 10 statements an employee might make to a customer. At face value, most may seem very typical and pretty clear:
- That won’t take long.
- The process is described on the website.
- You need to fill out a GARBA.
- You’ll hear back from us not too long after we receive the results.
- I need your ID.
- The first thing you need to do is to set an appointment.
- Just call any time if you need help.
- Call the main number, and we’ll get that for you.
- I’m going to transfer you (then the caller hears a click and rings).
- Once you send in a work order, the maintenance folks will be in touch and address it quickly.
So, what’s wrong with these? Here are 10 things to consider (the #s below correspond to the #s above):
- “Won’t take long” might be interpreted differently by different people – 1 hour to the customer v. 1 week to the employee.
- The website has many pages; be more specific; make it easy for the customer to find the specific page.
- What is a GARBA? Avoid acronyms whenever possible.
- How long is “not too long?” And when do you expect to receive the results? Both timeframes are unclear.
- A customer may have several ID’s. Which one is needed?
- The other process steps are not described.
- What number should the caller call and when?
- What’s the main number? How long will it take to “get that?”
- It’s not clear why the caller is being transferred, to whom, etc.
- It’s not clear how to send the order, who will respond to the customer, what “in touch” means, and what “quickly” means.
To effectively set or manage expectations, ensure you’re being as clear as the customer needs.