Setting Customer Expectations

 “If it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight—”


You probably thought of Federal Express when you read that phrase. While it has been years since the company used that tagline, the association remains in place.


FedEx set that expectation in the minds of the public back in 1979 and remains synonymous with it to this day. Whenever someone needs something delivered within 24 hours, most people think of Federal Express first.


This is the power of setting customer expectations.


Here’s how you can do it.


Live Up to Your Hype

The face you present to the world is the face customers expect to see—all the time. If your ads, your PR and your social media campaigns make a promise, you’d better make sure it’s one you can live up to 100 percent of the time.


Further, your customer service representatives have to be completely on board with the idea and strive to live up to it in all of their customer interactions. Your product pages should to say exactly what the merchandise can do and avoid distorting reality. In other words, honesty, transparency and consistency are fundamental to your success in this regard.


Every Surprise Must be Pleasant

Under promising and over delivering is a good strategy—as long as the under promise is competitive.


If you make an online purchase with free shipping and you’re told your item will arrive in three days, but it shows up in two, you’re pleasantly surprised—right?


This is why it’s better to tell your customer an item will arrive in three days and have it show up in two—than it is to tell them it will be there in two days and deliver it in three.


On the other hand, making lots of promises, only to have them undone in the fine print at the bottom of the page? Yeah, that’s an unpleasant surprise. It’s also a good way to see your customer attrition metrics rise. You want your patrons to feel they can always trust you do what you say you will do without excuses or disclaimers.


Communicate Clearly and Seamlessly

Take every opportunity to educate your customers. Their expectations will be more realistic when they understand the features, capabilities and limitations of your products.


Provide tutorials using video, infographics and customer testimonials when items have complexities and nuances of which the buyer should be aware. This will help them extract the products’ fullest potential. Premium web templates like Shopify’s make it easy to do.


Offer 24/7/365 customer service so questions can be answered whenever they arise. Chatbots can be a cost-effective method of providing this—especially during off hours. Along those same lines, whenever customers try to contact you for any reason at all, make sure they get responses as quickly as possible—ideally within the hour.


Show Them Some Love at Every Opportunity

When something goes awry, bend over backwards to make it right. Customers love merchants who behave in this manner. Take ownership of problems—regardless of who is at fault—and do what you need to do to make things right.


While expressing gratitude for every transaction should go without saying, aberrations happen with enough frequency to justify stating it here. People have more choices than ever when it comes to shopping. They want to spend their money where they feel appreciated. Be hearty in your gratefulness and lavish in your regard for their business.


Carefully setting customer expectations and living up to them is a proven method for inspiring customer loyalty. These four tips will get you started in the right direction.


Hey, if it worked for FedEx, it can work for you too.