I know, we’ve been conditioned into believing that the client is always right.
But how true is that statement?
Considering that the saying is a 119-year-old and invented by a department store owner, how valid is this premise in today’s marketplace?
We can all agree that a lot has changed over the past century; consumer responsibility became “a thing”.
Technology facilitated a dialogue between business and consumer in ways that drastically changed the dynamics forever; including the expectation of businesses in regards to the behavior of their consumer base.
This is especially true within the digital sphere of existence.
We see it all the time with social media platforms and virtually every SaaS business out there. Users are required to conduct their behavior within a pre-established framework of expectations in return for the expected level of service from the provider.
For instance, user limits could be a factor. In certain subscription-based services for example, account sharing is not permitted by the service provider. If a user is caught sharing an account, the business has the right to terminate their account.
This is just a basic example, however what needs to be understood by it is that businesses condition their consumer base by creating a framework of expectation in return for the agreed upon service conditions.
We can even see this occur within the hospitality sector.
If you waltz into a Five-Star Hotel you are expected to behave in a certain way. If you run in there only wearing your underwear, singing the Star-Spangled Banner, you’ll be “not-so-politely” escorted from the premises by security.
Consumers understand this agreement and behave according to the expectations of the business; understanding that it will provide them with uninterrupted service throughout the duration of their stay. If they play ball, everybody wins.
The question you should be asking through all this is – How do I train my consumers to behave a certain way?
But first, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of training your customers.
Finding the Win-Win Scenario
Don’t be frightened by the expression training your customers. You’re not a manipulating evil genius out to destroy the world. You’re a business person trying to run a successful business.
This means, that if your client behaves in a certain way, it allows you to deliver the best version of your product or service.
The customer benefits because they are able to rely on your service to deliver their desired result consistently.
This arrangement allows both the business and the consumer to mutually benefit from one another. It reduces the odds of service interruption and maximizes all business processes.
The trick is to find out what the ideal behavioral conditions of your core consumer is, that would maximize your ability to deliver on your service or good. Of course, it has to be within the bounds of reason.
You can’t expect your clients to exert too much effort to comply with your expectations either. Rather consider what negative behavior impedes you from achieving optimal output within your business. Usually, by simply expecting the opposite of these [negative behaviors] is enough to establish the harmonious interaction between you and your customer.
How to Politely Train Your Clients
Before you can expect anything from your customers, you first have to figure out what you need to expect from them to be able to deliver your service or good according to their expectations.
When you understand that, you can start crafting out your own Framework of Expectation. You need to make it explicit that when someone uses your services, they need to conduct themselves accordingly.
Make it explicit that if they don’t, then you will not be able to deliver on the goods or services they expect to receive within the pre-established conditions.
This doesn’t have to be ominous either.
Let’s say that you have some sort of public chat forum. Within your platform, you’d like people to remain respectful within their discourse, not post spammy links and so forth.
Take what you don’t want your users to do and invert the behavior to the positive. For instance, “DO NOT USE PROFANITY!!!” could rather be worded as, “Be respectful in your discourse to create an environment everyone can enjoy”.
Additionally, including these corporate values within your marketing will help condition the expectations of future customers, solidifying the rules of engagement you have established.
Over time, the expected sphere of behavior becomes a passive motor response within your consumer base. You simply have to be consistent in your message and integrate it within your brand identity projecting your desired framework of expectation.
The client is always right, isn’t wrong. It was completely correct for the time when it was first coined. However, today’s environment demands a different approach. Understanding the principles of consumer expectation, business expectation and the interconnectivity between the two, has the potential to allow you to maximize the value of a congruous transaction.
This benefit both the business and the consumer.
It’s a fundamental element that every business needs to consider, whether Brick-&-Mortar or Click-&-Order, establishing productive rules of engagement allows you to operate in an environment where your business can thrive.