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Customer Service Means Managing Expectations

Busy people can be the toughest clients… but also they can be very easy to keep happy. 

IF you manage, and then meet, their expectations!

The busy client calls his investment advisor (could be anything… insurance agent, banker, lawyer etc.) looking for some answers to a few questions at 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon.

By Saturday afternoon the client feels like it has been ages since he asked his question.

By Monday lunchtime he is wondering what is taking so long.

Tuesday goes by and by the time the investment advisor actually calls back at 5pm on Tuesday (with all of the answers to those questions) the client is feeling very neglected.

The reality is that the investment advisor got back to the client within 2 business days, with everything he was looking for.

The investment advisor is feeling like she did a great job and can’t understand why the client doesn’t sound grateful.

In fact the client sounded quite abrupt!

The perception of the client… who might be a busy entrepreneur or any other kind of role that moves at a very fast pace is quite different.

“I asked a question 4 days ago and she gets back to me like she has done a great job”!

You have to know your clients!

"The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways."

Richard Branson

Some things that could have avoided all of the fuss.

Set expectations

1. A quick call late on Friday, even if it is voicemail… “I got your message, it will take me a couple of days to get you everything you asked for. I need to chase a few people down so worst case I will be back to you Wednesday at Noon”.


2. A quick email. “Sorry I missed your call. I’m on it, but have to chase a few people down so I will get back to you Wednesday Noon at the latest. Will that be OK?”


3. A call Monday morning… with the same kind of message. This call will remind the client that they made their request just a couple of “business hours” ago. Believe me, the client will NOT think that way unless you gently remind him. I got your message late Friday but I was out of the office and am on it first thing this morning”.

It is called managing expectations.

When you are dealing with clients do you always know what their expectations are?

If you assume that people think like you … then you will almost always be wrong. (Read that one again!)

The best salespeople, the best client service people and anyone dealing with clients who is good at the job will understand this.

As Covey said, “First seek to understand” and this applies to expectations as much as anything.

“If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed.”

Terrell Owens

Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

Want to know where Canada's hot jobs are? Visit the Eagle Job Board!


I write these articles with the intent of sharing MY experience and knowledge gained during MY life journey. From the 16 year old joining the Royal Navy, through many incarnations, to the grey haired guy who built a business. If you find a nugget here, then I am happy. If the message offends you then I apologise, that was never my intent. I know and recognize there are many people and groups who have a far bigger challenge than I have had and I only wish you well.