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Exceed Expectations By Representing the Customer

By Sanya Weathers

It’s really, really easy to exceed customer expectations by doing one simple thing: Have the customer’s back. Customers want to feel like someone is on their side, and being on the customer’s side is the job of the community team.

There are really only two elements to this campaign:

Part One:  Set the expectations lower than the level you can consistently deliver.

We’ve discussed this at length on this blog. Briefly put, you analyze your own abilities and publicly state guidelines that you can handle. For example, correspondence: Will it take you a day to respond to emails? Tell people they’ll have a response within three business days. Will it take you more than that? Don’t promise a personal response at all.

Part Two: Find out what the typical expectation is and exceed it.

Okay, I can hear at least one of you saying “Thanks, Captain Obvious.” Here are some concrete examples:

–    If a fansite sends a Q&A, answer the questions in a timely manner – and throw in some exclusive screenshots.

–    If a customer asks a really good question, answer it – on the website, crediting the customer by name (after asking his permission to use his name, or asking how he wants to be credited).

–    If one of your own service providers goes above and beyond for you, thank them publicly – without requiring a reciprocal gesture or any hint of a quid pro quo.

–    If you send a form letter, add a personal PS to the bottom of the letters to your best customers and community leaders.

–    If the customer has a problem you can’t solve, surprise him by not making him repeat the story to the customer service department. Instead, have the person who contacts the customer (that’s right, don’t make the customer call and fight his way through the phone tree) repeat the story as you communicated it, and ask the customer for clarification.

–    If you couldn’t solve the problem, you can still be the one who follows up to make sure the problem was solved.

A good community manager is the champion of the customer, not a mouthpiece or a moderator. You can exceed expectations just by being that champion.

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