The “MEET AND EXCEED” METHOD
Common sense says that customer service and satisfaction are very important. Almost every business owner/leader will say that “customer service is their number one priority!” If that is so, why is it that customer service so often stinks?
Further, you may notice that when you finally decide to cancel your relationship with a service provider, the largest reason that you leave is likely because they failed to meet your expectations. More than half the time the service provider did a poor job at customer service and managing your expectations, which means that the relationship dimension of the service was given short shrift with you.

There are often two dimensions of every business arrangement with the client.
1.   The “Product” dimension. This is what you generally buy from the provider: the widget; the competence; the analysis; the expertise; the tangible product. For example, if you buy a nice meal from a restaurant, the “Product” is the food, the quality, the presentation, the ambience, the style, etc.
2.   The “Relationship” dimension. This is the nature of how the service provider handles their service quality and manages their conduct and maintenance of the relationship with you. For example, if the service at the restaurant is outstanding, you feel important, attended to, and your expectations are met and exceeded.
You will notice that more than half the time when your expectations are managed poorly, you stop the service because of a failure with the “Relationship” dimension. There was too big a dissonance between what you expected and what you received.
Indeed, in your personal life, you will also notice that most marriages collapse because expectations were unclear and failed to be met between the partners. Therefore, it is imperative that you make sure, in any relationship, that you clarify your mutual expectations, agree on what is expected, follow through, and do the maintenance.
Here are some situations you have likely encountered while doing business:
  1. Your client/customer is unhappy with you and your brand and appears to want to cancel your service. You want to rescue the business and re-establish the relationship.
  2. Your potential client is unhappy with another brand provider. You want to get their business.
  3. Your potential client is already happy with another brand provider and therefore appears unlikely to need you. You are likely to walk away even though you would like to get their business.
In all three situations, you might be surprised at how often using the “Meet and Exceed” method will significantly help you achieve your objectives.
1. Your client/customer is unhappy with you and your brand and appears to want to cancel your service. You want to rescue the business and re-establish the relationship.
When the client is unhappy with you, one of the worst things you can do is argue with them and tell them that they are wrong. Many service providers become very defensive when the client is unhappy and an argument ensues about what was expected, what was delivered, what was within the scope, and what was additional.
Instead of arguing, consider this sequence.
  • Ask the unhappy client what the issue is.
  • Listen as they tell you about the source of the problem/s.
  • Repeat what they say and be sure that you understand it correctly.
  • They agree that you understand it correctly.
  • You then say, “It appears that we managed your expectations poorly. Is that right?”
  • They will likely say, “Yes.”
  • Empathize with them and say, “I can see how you are bothered, and the last thing we want to do is fail to meet your expectations.”
  • You will notice that the client will begin to relax.
  • Say, “Here’s an idea. Let’s sit down and discuss your expectations, get a clear picture about what they are, and then agree on a test period of time where you can get your expectations satisfactorily met by us. What are your thoughts?”
  • As you can see, this method makes it clear that you are interested in rescuing the relationship. You have owned your error and want to fix it. Often this method to clarify the expectations, combined with a test-period to confirm that expectations were met, will allow the relationship to continue.
Remember, you must then do ongoing maintenance. I recommend that you periodically ask your client about their satisfaction level and how much expectations are being bet. This habit will keep the relationship strong.
2. Your potential client is unhappy with another brand provider. You want to get their
business.
When the potential client is already unhappy with another brand provider, there is a window of time that they might want to consider another provider… you!
One common and counter-productive approach is for you to tell your client how bad the other brand is and/or how good yours is. When you criticize the other brand, the client will feel stupid that they bought it. When you tell the client how good you are, they will begin to doubt it because you are focusing on you, rather than on the client and what they need. If the client is unhappy, this method will increase their unhappiness because you are trying to SELL your product rather than creating a condition where the client wants to BUY it.
To earn the client’s business, consider this sequence.
  • Ask the client about the nature of their unhappiness with the other brand.
  • Listen as they tell you about the problem/s.
  • Repeat what you understand about the client’s problem with the other brand. Ask if you understood it correctly.
  • They will tell you that you got it accurately.
  • You say, “It appears that your expectations were managed poorly. Is that right?”
  • They will say, “Yes.”
  • You then say, “Managing expectations is extraordinarily important and we put a premium on doing that with our clients. We want to find out what they expect and then figure out a way to MEET and EXCEED those expectations.”
  • They will agree.
  • Say, “Here’s an idea. Let’s suppose we get together and have a discussion about your expectations and how they might be met and exceeded. What is your appetite to have that conversation?”
  • They will likely say that they may be interested.
  • Continue asking questions to learn more about what is important to them.
Remember to make the conversation about the client rather than you. Your job is to make sure you are keen to MEET and EXCEED their expectations. When you help them conclude how important their expectations are, you will likely get the business.
People love to buy stuff, and they hate to be sold stuff. Moreover, you must do the ongoing maintenance. I recommend that you periodically ask your client about their satisfaction and how much their expectations are being met. This habit will help keep the relationship strong.
3.  Your potential client is already happy with another brand provider and therefore appears
unlikely to need you. You are likely to walk away even though you would like to get their business.
One common and counter-productive habit is to walk away. Often you will assume that if they are happy with their existing provider, they are VERY happy. Sometimes this assumption is incorrect.
Remember, this method is called the “MEET AND EXCEED” approach, so the client could simply be happy rather than THRILLED. Further, you may find that while the client might stay with their existing provider, for now, there may come a time when they will remember how well you treated them in your conversations.
To engage the “MEET AND EXCEED” approach, consider this sequence.
  • Ask the client about the nature of their happiness with the other brand.
  • Listen as they tell you about the relationship and/or the value received.
  • Repeat to them what you understand about the client’s experience with the other brand. Then ask if you understood them correctly.
  • The client will tell you that you got it accurately.
  • You then say, “It appears that your expectations are being met. Is that right?”
  • They will say, “Yes.”
  • You say, “Managing and meeting expectations is extraordinarily important and I am so pleased that yours are being met by this provider.”
  • They will agree.
  • You ask them, “Let’s suppose that you experienced a service where your expectations were EXCEEDED. What would that look like?”
  • They may hesitate and look as if that was the first time that they thought of it.
  • They might say, “That is a good question. Frankly, that is the first time that I thought of it. Candidly, it’s because it is a great event when expectations are merely met without being exceeded.”
  • Reinforce their position. Say, “That is often the truth, unfortunately. Still, let’s suppose you experienced a service where your expectations were EXCEEDED. What would that look like?”
  • They could begin to muse about what it would look like or they may say that might be an interesting discussion.
  • Ask for an appointment to discuss this. “Let’s suppose we get together and have a discussion about your expectations and how they might be met and exceeded. What is your appetite to have that conversation?”
  • They will likely say that they might be interested and now they are thinking that exceeding expectations is perhaps possible!
  • Continue to ask questions to learn more about what is important to them.
Remember, make the conversation about the client rather than about you. Your job is to make sure you are keen to meet and exceed their expectations. When you help them conclude that you understand how important that is, they may want to talk with you more about how to achieve that quality and you will continue the relationship. This means over time, you will likely get the business.
People love to buy stuff, and they hate to be sold stuff. You must do the ongoing maintenance. I recommend that you periodically ask your client about their satisfaction and how much their expectations are being met and exceeded. This habit will keep the relationship strong.
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