Post-Pandemic Trends in Managing Changing Client Expectations

Business discussion with client

“The customer is always right” so the adage goes. Which of the versions below is closest to the truth?

  • The customer is always right… even when they are wrong.
  • The customer is always right… until they are wrong.
  • The customer is not always right.

The answer is near the end of this article but, for now, suffice it to say that nobody is always right. Customers and clients are never always right, BUT…


Businesses want clients to feel they are right

Client expectations can range from the simplest to the simply impossible. There are times when expectations are valid, but sometimes they are unrealistic. When faced with the latter, the immediate options are: (a) plainly tell them it is not within the company’s power to fulfill the expectation, or (b) try to fulfill the expectation as best as one can.

The problem with the first is you risk losing that client. To some businesses, that is all well and good riddance, but that still means one less client. With the second option, the company could try everything in its power and yet still come up short in the eyes of the client – begging the question, was it worth it?

In whatever case, sometimes the goal is not in responding to a client’s issue to a T, but in keeping the client satisfied with the response or action taken. Often, a client wants assurance that somebody is taking care of their needs.


What are the proven ways of managing client expectations?

Remember that client expectations are not within the company’s control – but the response is. Even when the client is not right, never make them feel they are wrong. That is where effective client expectations management comes in.

Here are several effective practices used by various businesses to manage client expectations.


Be client-centric

Managing client expectations starts with creating a fantastic experience for them. Put your client front and centre. Let them know this and make sure to let them feel it as well, not just in word but also in deed.

Whether they are wrong or right, clients bring companies their revenues. This is why companies try their best to make clients feel satisfied even when they are not right.


Know every client

It is really not just knowing your clients but understanding them in every way. This is different from understanding your market and more about knowing each client. Find out where they are coming from in every instance. Answer questions such as:

  • What does this client need?
  • What does the client want?
  • How has a particular client interacted with the company in the past?

A company that understands its clients will be able to anticipate their questions and concerns.


Communicate clearly

Be crystal clear and perfectly honest about what the company can and cannot do, will and will never do, right from the start, even before they sign up with the company.

Effective communication will avoid frustration for both the company and the client. It can also prevent unpleasant experiences.


Always relate positively

Exert efforts to build and maintain positive relationships with all clients. When a client feels only positive emotions when dealing with a company, they will trust the company with their business. This will also make it easier for the company to achieve client satisfaction.

Also, avoid directly contradicting clients even when they are not right. Instead of saying, “That’s wrong,” one can say, “What I’m hearing is so-and-so is not working for you. Can you tell us more about it?” Let the client explain, then shift to explaining how other aspects of the issue are also at play.


Understand the entire issue

Avoid getting boxed in with stereotypes. Every client is unique and every issue is unique. When speaking with clients, actively listen and never assume they have exactly the same issue as another client with a similar concern.

Listening is also a way to let a client know that the company sincerely wants to understand them. Take in every detail. Ask questions to clarify when needed.


Discuss solutions

Be upfront. Clients do not like feeling left in the dark and not knowing what is happening behind the scenes. Openly discuss solutions with them.

Let clients understand how complex a problem can be. This will help eliminate unrealistic expectations.

Train client-facing team members to become highly knowledgeable about client concerns and the company’s available solutions.


Have a realistic timeline

Nobody likes waiting, but worse than waiting is being given a turnaround time that is later not met. Provide clients with a timeline that is realistic both to the company and to the client. Businesses may control customer service expectations by explicitly expressing how long each given activity will take, to the best of their knowledge, from the time the client reaches out until the resolution is complete.


Give regular updates

Providing updates at each stage of the resolution process is much appreciated by clients. This is also a simple but effective way of managing expectations. Again, people would like to know what is going on rather than just waiting and not knowing what to expect.


What are the post-pandemic trends in managing client expectations?

Clients today are looking for more efficient service. Doing business has transformed as much as new technologies have accelerated the way everything is done.

People now have more access to information and influencer opinions. Social media has made mass communications instant. E-commerce and B2B are now more agile than ever.

Companies are now operating in fast-paced work environments. Those who are not able to keep up will surely get left behind in the dust. What can companies do to more effectively manage client expectations in today’s world?


Know your clients “personally” and accurately

It is no longer enough to know and understand clients. With the use of data management and analytics, companies are better able to have access to every client’s records. There is no excuse, for example, for not being aware of how a client had interacted with a staff member who may happen to be unavailable the next time the client makes a follow-up. Having a client repeat an issue every time they speak with someone else in the company creates a negative and frustrating impact on them.


Respond faster

Speed has never been a better equaliser than today. Clients expect faster response times and turnarounds. This is where the terms nimble and agile come into play. Fortunately, new technologies are allowing businesses to let AI and chatbots take over under certain conditions.


Set up 24/7 self-service options

Take advantage of available automation tools so clients can opt to find answers on their own. FAQ pages, chatbots, ticketing systems, or even interactive voice response (IVR) systems can spell the difference between keeping or losing a client.


Provide more channels

One reason clients expect quicker responses is the availability of different communication channels. It used to be just email, which now seems to have taken a backseat to ticketing systems and faster channels like chats, social media, and messaging apps.

Be careful, however, to be consistent across all those channels when handling a client concern. Clients should receive the same quality of service whatever the platform. Remember also that clients see all of those channels under one brand, not as separate entities.


Be mobile-friendly

Among the different channels, perhaps the most important thing to realise is that people nowadays tend to use those that are on mobile. Make sure you have at least one mobile-friendly channel and expect clients to be always on business mode even when they are on the road, while travelling abroad, or even when on vacation.


Be one step ahead

Be proactive. Stay at least one step ahead of the client and the competition. We cannot overemhasise the need to understand your client and anticipate their needs. A business that is one step ahead of the client is two steps ahead of the competition.


Build a caring culture

Beyond being client-centred, steer the whole organisation toward a culture of caring about what clients care about. When such a culture is established and well-ingrained across the entire company, putting the customer first becomes second nature. It will also result in sincerity in desiring to provide satisfaction even when dealing with a difficult client.


Get better and better

There is no one-size fits all approach to client expectation management. Just as every client is unique, every business is also one of a kind. Methods that worked in the past may no longer work today, and strategies that are effective now might not be as effective next year. It is therefore important to always keep updating and enhancing policies and processes for handling client expectations.


Which is true?

We promised to answer this at the start of the article: Which of the versions below is closest to the truth?

  • The customer is always right… even when they are wrong.
  • The customer is always right… until they are wrong.
  • The customer is not always right.

Our answer: The client is not always right, but a company must still do everything within its means to provide client satisfaction, though never at the expense of having to bend over backward. Even when a client becomes dissatisfied with the company’s response to their expectation, never burn bridges and leave the door open for a past client to return.


How we can help

Profitmaster cares about the firms that come to us in the same way that they care about their clients. Do you want to know more about how we can help you handle your clients and their expectations? Send us a message today.