Every customer has their own expectations in a given situation. The best companies will help to set those expectations based upon their product or service … and will meet or exceed expectations in order to provide a satisfying experience.
Expectations can be reasonable or unreasonable heading into the sales situation … but through the sales process those expectations should be “reset” to reflect reality, and managed such that the experience is good.
“Customers may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
A recent example. We rented a home in Florida for the month of February. Renting a place over the internet is an improving experience, but there is always some trepidation. We researched and modified our expectations based upon availability, and listed prices … and we tried to mitigate potential problems by booking well in advance. So … four months ago we booked the house. We paid a 50% deposit and in the ensuing months planned our stay. In particular we arranged with various family members and friends to visit with us during that month.
All looked good.
In January, we paid the remaining 50% and set about preparing for our trip, making sure we brought along everything we might need.
A week later (more than four months after reserving the place) we received an email … “I was recently informed by the owner of Sur La Mer that the house … will not be available to rent.”
No explanation and no real apology beyond … “I apologize as this matter is out of my control.”
Anyone who books a holiday home has a nagging concern that the property might become unavailable … but the expectation is that once it is booked and a deposit paid, it should be OK.
We did get our money back … but they had a significant amount of our money for four months plus we incurred costs (wire transfer fees twice). The result was that we ended up out of pocket by $80 plus whatever the interest on our money had been worth. Just to add insult to injury.
And still no real apology.
We scrambled and found our own replacement because the agent could not find a suitable place … but ended up paying a significant amount more in order to be in that location on the dates we had planned for.
I thought it would not be unreasonable to write a review on the places where this home shows for rent. I could share our experience and warn others that the owner is quite comfortable canceling at the last minute, without explanation and obviously did not feel an apology was necessary.
I tried to review the home on the site through which we rented, Florida Luxury Rentals. Their site did not allow reviews … interesting customer service idea. Guess we won’t use those guys again.
I tried to write a review on VRBO which also advertises this house. Their policy is that if you did not stay there then you can’t review it! I tried to explain that cancellations especially under these conditions are a major cause of concern to renters … but they couldn’t help. So be warned if you are using VRBO you have no way of knowing the willingness of the landlord to cancel at the last minute.
I tried to send the review into Tripadvisor but they too have a policy that excludes reviews unless you have stayed there. SO again, be warned that Tripadisor gives no indication if a landlord has a history of cancelling!
“The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.” Derek Silvers
I started the article talking about client expectations … and hijacked it with an example that shows how difficult it is to know, as a client, what your expectations should even be. We ended up “burned” by a poor landlord and dissatisfied with our ability to provide feedback (a reasonable expectation).
Companies that want satisfied customers need to manage those expectations correctly or they will get the kind of negative exposure they deserve.
Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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