I’ve been participating in an interesting discussion in Yahoo Answers of what YA is really all about. Some members are saying that YA should be about the knowledge base, and as such strive first and foremost for the accuracy of the answers given. Others, on the other hand, are saying that YA is all about the user community, sharing knowledge and having fun.
This led me to ask the following questions:
- Do your customers really know what your business is all about?
- Or do they have a different idea or perception about your business?
- And if so, are they frustrated because you are not delivering what they think you should deliver?
From the YA debate, those who think YA should be an accurate knowledge database are frustrated and unhappy with the direction of YA. And unhappy customers leave. Worse, they can tell their network of friends that they are unhappy with the business and why. So instead of losing just 1 customer, you lost 20.
The key is to manage customer expectations, more so if you are a service provider. Expectations , unfortunately, are a scary thing — they can change and shift any minute depending on the customer’s interaction and experience with you.
1. The first step is to understand what your customers really want.
How to do this, of course, is the challenge for small businesses. Big businesses with millions to spare can conduct extensive market research conducted by professional market research companies. A one person business with a startup capital of $5,000 cannot be expected to hire a marketing firm to help create personas of the customers.
Even with a small budget, you can conduct your own survey. One way is to use services such as SurveyMonkey.com where for $19.99 pe month you can run a survey from your website or send the survey to your email list. Even ad agencies such as BurstMedia helps their publishers capture demographic and customer satisfaction information.
You can also encourage and setup a feedback mechanism with your customers. Those feedbacks could be your window as to how customers perceive you.
2. Focus on educating the customers.
Be open about what you are. Tell your customers what you really are about, in your face-to-face interaction with them, or even in your web site. Customers want to know you; they want the human face behind the company.
If you’ve got additional tips on how to manage customer expectations, I’d love to hear them. Please email them to me.