4 tips for managing customer expectations when demand is high

Meeting customer expectations is vitally important for small businesses – but it’s not always easy to meet them when time and resources are scarce.

A happy client can become a loyal client, resulting in repeat sales and synergies, improved relationships, and ultimately to increased profits.

Better still, when a customer goes away satisfied, this can lead to referrals to like-minded friends, family, or colleagues.

Most clients likely want you to be friendly, helpful, and demonstrate attention to detail, while responding to their problems and needs promptly.

Yet when your business is going through a busy period, delivering a personal service may not seem as achievable.

Here are four tips to help you manage your customers’ expectations when demand is high.

1. Plan in detail

If you know you’re entering a busy period for your small business, a short amount of time planning at the outset can be invaluable.

If you offer custom services or products, don’t rush through a proposal or estimate to save time — this may cost you later when you discover the client had different expectations than you planned.

Create a detailed proposal or estimate, and communicate it clearly.

In planning, you may identify that you temporarily need more resources, for example.

Alternatively, you may be able to make your calendar work in order to deliver on your customer’s requirements. Don’t fail to plan, or you’ll have a plan to fail!

2. Don’t over-promise

Anticipating your client’s needs can enable you to manage their expectations appropriately.

While there may be a fine line between transparency and under-selling your services, it’s vital that you don’t over-promise and under-deliver.

If you’re busy, be honest with your customers, and explain to them how you plan to address the challenges that lie ahead.

Communicate any adjustments to your timeline as soon as you know about the change. They will appreciate it!

3. Personalise your customer service

Customers that use small businesses often do get that personal touch of a tailored service, rather than a generic offering.

Delivering a personalised service means doesn’t just mean knowing your customer by name!

It means truly understanding their wants, needs, emotions, motivations, and goals, and matching your service to their requirements.

If you want your customers to go away happy and singing the praises of your business to others, you’ll need to make them feel appreciated, cared about, and that you have genuinely listened to their requirements.

Busy or not, your level of service must make your individual customers feel valued!

4. Circle back regularly

Having let your clients know that you’re busy, you will need to reassure them that you still have their requirements under control.

The way to achieve this is to ensure that you stay in constant contact.

You can’t over-deliver on client expectations if you don’t let your customers know what you have been doing for them.

Listen closely to customer needs, and respond quickly to problems.

Provide regular updates and reports on how processes are progressing — restate your goals and what you have accomplished to date.

This can be accomplished as simply as updating a shared spreadsheet or with a more formal update via phone or email.

Through regularly letting your clients know what you have achieved to date, and what you plan to do next, they be assured that you have their interests well under control.

The wrap

Your customers want to engage with your small business because they want to feel valued and believe that you can provide flexible or individual service or product.

If you know that demand is high and your time will be pressured, plan ahead and consider carefully what your client’s needs are.

Keeping in regular contact is the most effective way to manage expectations and to ensure that you meet them.

Finally, try to compensate your clients by giving them greater attention when business or demand has eased!