Alignment of expectations: understand the importance and learn step by step

Expectations alignment

The beginning of a project is one of the most decisive moments for the rest of its implementation. Company and customer can leave the same meeting with different expectations – which can have serious consequences if there is not adequate communication.

Therefore, the alignment of expectations is essential for the project and the relationship with the client to proceed in the best possible way. In this article, you’ll understand the importance, benefits, and how to align expectations with customers.

We have already stated that the alignment of expectations requires a lot of communication between both parties, as you will see in the following tips:

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  1. Understand the customer’s goals and needs;
  2. Define the next steps;
  3. Clarify deadlines;
  4. Have clear communication;
  5. Establish responsibilities on both sides.

Read on to learn the important steps in the process of aligning customer expectations and maintaining a good long-term relationship.

The importance of aligning expectations

Expectations are created from the first contact between the company and the customer, after all the company has shown that it will be able to solve a problem.

At the beginning of the project, the best solutions and what must be done to meet or review expectations must already be shared with the client so that a good relationship can be built.

Remembering, of course, that being able to exceed customer expectations is a great way to gain customer loyalty and reinforce a good reputation for the company.

But beware: if the speech made in the first contact is not put into practice, all the generated expectations will turn into something negative. In this scenario, disappointments and possible conflicts will arise, making possible future partnerships difficult.

Knowing how to align expectations is one of the main practices to maintain a good relationship with the customer. In this sense, the service has great participation.

According to a survey published by Opinion Box in 2020, companies’ perception of service quality is not the same as that of customers: while 88% of companies believe they offer efficient or very efficient service, only 56% of customers rate them in this way.

Receiving high expectations from the client is synonymous with confidence in the work of the contracted company and, despite the pressure for everything to be done as agreed, this circumstance can help deliver an even better job.

A Harvard research, conducted by psychologist Robert Rosenthal, called the Pygmalion Effect explains how expectations interfere with the outcome. The video below exemplifies how having high expectations can lead to better performance.

How to align expectations?

Understand the customer’s goals

The first step is to understand what the customer’s needs and expectations are. It is important that the customer’s objective is clear and specific: how much do the results need to improve? How much money is earmarked to achieve these goals? How long do you expect to see results?

Knowing this and other information about what the client intends to achieve, you will be able to evaluate the best ways to reach the expected results.

Define next steps

Sharing the next steps of the project with the client is one of the measures that will calm the process, as the client will understand exactly what to expect. A good practice is to set small goals to be achieved during the project and communicate them to the client.

In a meeting, for example, end by mentioning the next actions that should be taken, as well as those responsible for each activity, that is, whether the customer or your company should carry out any activity or make a decision to move forward.

In this way, everyone understands what steps to take, knows what the expected results are, and both sides win.

Clarify deadlines

If the client does not receive the finished project on the expected day, even if it was not the date set by you, a big headache can arise!

Clarifying the deadline is important so that the customer does not create expectations of receipt before the necessary time.

By explaining the deadline to perform each step with quality, there will be greater understanding as to the date of final delivery.

And, of course, there are situations where deadlines need to be extended. In this case, the most important thing is that this is agreed with the client and that your company seeks to understand the impact on the project as a whole.

Have clear communication

If the customer assumes that the company is able to deliver a certain demand within a deadline and there is no delivery because all the points have not been clarified, there may be serious consequences.

It is extremely important to tell the customer that any doubts or new ideas can be communicated to the company. If the customer has a new need and you as a company are not aware of it, the scenario of not meeting expectations becomes more likely.

Frequent communication, whether weekly or daily, facilitates the process and prevents wear and tear on both sides. Therefore, it is essential that the company and the client have very clear all the expected results, how the process will be carried out and the objective of the partnership.

Establish responsibilities on both sides

A conversation about what must be done to reach the final goal will make clear the responsibility of those involved. Just as the customer needs the contractor’s collaboration, the company also depends on the customer’s cooperation.

The engagement of both sides must be clarified at the beginning of the project so that the relationship between contractor and contractor is more fluid and for them to work together in the best possible way.

The impact of misaligned expectations

The alignment of expectations with the customer makes the process more productive and avoids disappointments, contributing to loyalty. If the process is not clear and expectations are not understood, the chances of the customer choosing a competitor grow.

Therefore, in addition to knowing how to align expectations, it is also important to have knowledge about how to get more engaged and committed customers.

When the company is not able to fulfill what was presented in the first contact, or what the customer understood that it would be delivered, frustration will certainly arise.

This creates conflicts and strain that could be avoided in the relationship. In such cases, brand reputation can come into play.

Therefore, understanding what the customer expects at the end of the project must be a constant practice of the company, so that the chances of loyalty are greater.

To help, get to know the 6 types of customers and what to expect from each one:

Benefits of aligning expectations

Aligning expectations is one of the ways to offer a good experience for the customer and this can be the differential for your company to be chosen. When there is trust and all the steps are clear, as well as the final objective, the client realizes that the project is developing as planned, that the goal is closer to being reached and there are no negative surprises.

Knowing how to align expectations with the customer means being able to understand exactly what the customer needs, when they need it, the steps to get there, having a clear communication and, above all, a greater chance of sales in the future.

That way, when it’s time for final delivery, a positive review will be on the way! But if you’re still unsure of what to do if you get negative feedback, don’t panic: there are tools and strategies that can be used in these cases.