The Bad News Is … You Are Meeting My Expectations

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There are only three possible impressions that a customer will walk away with having done business with you and/or your company. You have either …

  1. Not met their expectations or …
  2. Met their expectations or …
  3. Exceeded their expectations

Not meeting your customer’s expectations speaks for itself. Meeting a customer’s expectations is a neutral experience at best and a God-awful one at worst. It means absolutely nothing if we can’t recall anything memorable about the exchange. Nothing good. Nothing bad. Pure vanilla. Neutral experiences mean that this person will likely not go out of their way to do business with you again and your name will certainly not be top of mind if there is a referral opportunity and that is … bad.

The next time you do see them, and that is assuming that they even do return, you will be no more than a spot on the list of places to visit. You don’t have a customer. You have a shopper. The fact that they have purchased from you before don’t mean butkus.

I really do hate to be a whiner but, I’m a consumer too. My expectations of receiving any decent level of customer service are already extremely low and if you meet those expectations, that might be even worse. I got exactly what I expected. At least I am rarely disappointed. What I am is saddened.

I do remember the last time that a company excelled. I shop quite a bit on Amazon and I have only had to return an item once. I ordered a fancy coffee maker and it arrived busted up but, without any visible damage to the package. No questions asked, I printed out a prepaid return label and Amazon had already shipped me a new unit before I even had a chance to mail the old one back. Yeah, I like Amazon … a lot.

This experience can also be used to drive home an interesting point. Sometimes our opportunity to exceed customer expectations comes to us when things go wrong. Think about it. I assume that at some point, regardless of who or what, I’m going to have a problem with a product. Not knowing how a company will respond makes this a neutral state. When something does go wrong, and it will, will you exceed my expectations and solidify our relationship, or will you fall short of the mark?

The only acceptable outcome of any sales transaction must be exceeding customer expectations. Now for the really good news! As the bar has been set so incredibly low, and as your potential customer is very likely receiving lousy customer service from their existing supplier, your opportunity to step in and snatch that client are … BOUNDLESS and that’s pretty awesome! This is what we salespeople like to call “low hanging fruit”. So, If you want to exceed my expectations (you do, don’t you?), you will be memorable and you will be remarkable.

Be memorable

At the very least, each one of these should fall under “standard operating procedures“:

  • Set yourself apart from the crowd. Show me something different. Surprise me by doing the unexpected. Maybe a Skype call instead of an email or the phone? That will get my attention.
  • Be prepared and know more about us than the next guy does. You have the tools including social media resources like LinkedIn. Use them!
  • Ask me some really good questions and then listen to my answers. If I don’t make any sense, ask me to clarify.
  • Show up to meetings on time. I will appreciate that you value my time as much as you value your own.
  • Help me to manage and set realistic expectations and tell me “no” when necessary. When salespeople tell me “no”, I correlate that with honesty.
  • You know what you can and cannot do. Therefore, let me know what I can expect from you (at every step) and then exceed those promises that you made to me.
  • Be proactive. I understand that things don’t always go as planned. What I don’t understand is why I am calling you instead of you calling me?
  • Show me that you are responsive. I call or email you because I need your help.
  • Demonstrate that you can follow-up and follow-through. Do so proactively and keep me in the loop.
  • Check back with me after you have taken my money unless … you are not interested in seeing more of it.

It’s time to accelerate your efforts and social sales is the perfect vehicle to burn some rubber!

Be remarkable

  • Connect me with others. I buy your stuff so how about helping me to sell some of mine? Are there people who you know who might of our services? Maybe somebody on LinkedIn or Google+? Could you facilitate an introduction for me?
  • Help me to promote my products and services. I know that you are active on social media. Might it be possible for you to help to promote our products and services via these channels?
  • Refer us to others. We are happy to refer you, might you return this favor? Maybe you know someone or maybe you see something where people are talking on Facebook about needing something that we might be able to help them with. Could you please bring this to our attention?
  • Keep me informed and educated. We are always interested in learning! If you read articles that we might find to be of interest on the web, could you please forward copies of those to us?
  • Show me better ways to use your services. We love what you offer! We’d love it even more if you showed us better ways to use them. We might even buy more!
  • Share with me your secrets to saving, and generating, revenues. I know that you have a lot of great ideas. Might you share those with us and maybe even assist us in learning about and implementing some of these. For example … what is this thing that they are calling “social sales”?
  • Make me feel like a member of your company. Let us help you! If you ever need assistance in product development, anything, we would love to talk! I’ve heard of something called Hangups on … Google minus?? Maybe we could do one of those?

I will assume that if you have been memorable and remarkable in our business dealings, you will be that same way with others. Think … referrals. Now the question becomes, will you be satisfied to only do what is necessary to keep beans on the table or are you willing to go the distance and strive for something a little more satisfying and rewarding? It’s really not that difficult to do and even the littlest things do matter!

Craig Jamieson
Craig M. Jamieson contributes a monthly column on Social Selling. Craig has been in B2B sales since 1977 and during that time has served in a variety of positions including; sales manager, division sales manager, national sales manager, district manager, and as a business owner. He is the managing partner of Adaptive Business Services in Boise, Idaho which owns and operates NetWorks! Boise Valley B2B Networking Groups, is a Nimble Social CRM & HootSuite Solution Partner, a TTI Performance Systems VAA, and Craig also conducts workshops and seminars relating to sales and social business applications. +Craig Jamieson
Craig Jamieson


Social Sales Trainer and Author Helping Businesses To Increase Their Revenues, Nimble SCRM Solution Partner, TTI VAA, Own & Operate a B2B Networking Group
Garbage In = Garbage Out - Sales Forecasting #networking #leads #Boise - 11 hours ago
Craig Jamieson


  1. says

    Interesting post. You had me most of the way, but I have to say, the last snarky comment about Google+ was disconcerting. Regardless of whether you like Google+, making the comment is one of those mistakes which can sour an exchange with a customer without any positive upside. So that is one I would add to your list: Don’t express unnecessary biases, as they only ever serve to make you look less professional.

    • says

      Good grief! I apologize for the confusion, Ben! I love Google+! My (failed) intention was to point out that many of our clients who may not yet be socially active are confused and could use help from those of us who are more familiar with these platforms. This is one of the ways that we can separate ourselves from our competitors. Obviously, I failed terribly at my message :( However, you do make an excellent point! Thanks!

  2. says

    You hit the nail on the head Craig! We stress all of this to not only our employees but to our members. I love this line, “You know what you can and cannot do.” People appreciate honesty and telling someone that you do not do something will go a lot further than telling them you can and then falling short.

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