How Do You Manage Customer Expectations that Exceed Company Capabilities?


    How Do You Manage Customer Expectations that Exceed Company Capabilities?

    Navigating the delicate balance between customer expectations and company capabilities can be challenging, so we sought insights from top executives. From referring clients to niche specialists to engaging in solution-oriented conversations, here are the five strategies provided by CEOs, Partners, and Managing Directors on managing customer expectations.

    • Refer Clients to Niche Specialists
    • Embrace Transparency with Customers
    • Establish a Dedicated Growth Team
    • Cultivate Ethical Partnership Alignments
    • Engage in Solution-Oriented Conversations

    Refer Clients to Niche Specialists

    When a customer or client comes to me with expectations I know I can't meet, I don't hesitate to pass them along to a competitor. If you've done your work building a niche business, it's no detriment to hand over accounts that better fit another company. In fact, sticking to your specialty is a sign of dedication and expertise.

    At Pender & Howe, we experience this regularly. Clients want us to source lower-level workers, when we're focused on executives. Sending them to a trusted partner is a great way to maintain a connection, and they'll often come back to us when it's time to reorganize the C-suite.

    And if it's a wide range of hires they're looking for, we can work together with another firm to fully meet their needs.

    The lesson here is single-mindedness. Don't think about it as losing a client, but rather, retaining the narrow deftness that makes your company stand out in a crowded market.

    Travis Hann
    Travis HannPartner, Pender & Howe

    Embrace Transparency with Customers

    As the CEO of Startup House, I always believe in transparency and honesty when it comes to managing customer expectations. When faced with a situation where a customer's expectations were not aligned with what our company could provide, I make sure to communicate openly and clearly with the customer. I listen to their concerns, explain our limitations, and work together to find a solution that meets their needs as much as possible. By being upfront and proactive in addressing the issue, we can build trust and maintain a positive relationship with the customer, even if we can't meet all of their expectations. Remember, honesty is the best policy in business!

    Alex Stasiak
    Alex StasiakCEO & Founder, Startup House

    Establish a Dedicated Growth Team

    Initially, managing client feedback and expectations proved challenging. To address this, we established a dedicated growth team. This team's focus on monitoring these areas yielded valuable results. We gained a deeper understanding of stakeholder needs, allowing us to prioritize development based on what mattered most to our clients. Additionally, by tracking feedback, we could prioritize updates and improvements based on data, ensuring we focused on the most frequently used functions while acknowledging the importance of addressing all needs eventually. This improved responsiveness allowed us to consistently gather and incorporate feedback into platform updates. Overall, this approach ensures we prioritize effectively and address client needs promptly.

    Jamie Frew
    Jamie FrewCEO, Carepatron

    Cultivate Ethical Partnership Alignments

    When it comes to expectations, an essential lesson I learned was when we struggled to meet a prominent CPG brand's conceptual vision for a grandiose trade show exhibit beyond the existing structural engineering capabilities at our modest shop.

    In the quest to capture their business, our inexperienced team at the time, hungry to break through with an iconic name, overpromised speculative capability stretches rather than transparently re-aligning desires to feasible realities from the start. As prototypes battled physics constraints we lacked competence in navigating as a young firm then, trust eroded when the promised grandeur could not materialize onsite.

    However, from the miss, we instituted vital cultural cornerstones and customer collaboration rhythms that guide ethical partnership alignments to this day. Principal among them: relentless scope transparency every step of the imaginative journey, no matter how coveted the account. Creativity must fuel through ambitious vision but never detached from executable guardrails.

    Now, staging reveals happen continually to showcase feasibility looks while also welcoming clients into vulnerable backstage dialogues on our own limitations, resourcing realities, and specialty strengths so we discover best-fit solutions together. Checks for understanding prevent expectation gaps from snowballing silently until too late.

    Stephen Hudson
    Stephen HudsonManaging Director, Printroom

    Engage in Solution-Oriented Conversations

    When faced with a situation where a customer's expectations were not aligned with what my company could provide, I approached it with transparency, empathy, and a solution-oriented mindset.

    Firstly, I initiated an open and honest conversation with the customer to understand their expectations fully and the reasons behind them. Next, I explained our company's capabilities and limitations clearly and empathetically, emphasizing our commitment to delivering value within those boundaries.

    Then, I worked collaboratively with the customer to explore alternative solutions or compromises that could meet their needs while still aligning with our capabilities. Throughout the process, I prioritized communication, managing expectations effectively, and ultimately aiming to find a mutually satisfactory resolution that upheld our company's integrity and the customer's satisfaction.

    Andre Oentoro
    Andre OentoroCEO and Founder, Breadnbeyond