For those of you who read my posts on a regard basis, you know my view that a business exists because it owns and/or controls an asset it uses in its products to provide customers with a competitive advantage. In other words, a customer’s use of the product reduces their uncertainty of achieving a specific objective. We call this asset the “Key Component” because without it nothing else in the business is possible. Consequently, a business leader’s role is to establish and manage the delicate balance that exists between the return on the Key Component and the benefit the customer receives from using the product.
An often overlooked facet of this balancing act involves explaining to customers what exactly they can expect from the product and delivering on that promise. In short, creating and managing customer expectations.
Unfortunately, so many business leaders forget this; they over promise and under deliver, when and if they deliver at all. It is for this reason that when taking on a new client I let them know my expectations right from the start and bend over backward delivering on that promise.
All my coaching relationships start with a very clear expectation: we work together every week for one hour a week, on the same day, and at the same time. I know this may sound very demanding; we all have unexpected events in our life. No worries. Like hotels or dentists, clients can cancel or reschedule with 24 hour notice. Nonetheless, this expectation serves a number of purposes.
- It allows me to gauge the client’s level of engagement. How serious are they really about improving their leadership skills. If they can’t manage their time and priorities, how do they expect to take care of their customers?
- In my own value proposition, I offer my client certain results – improved leadership performance – but if I am the only one engaged in this process both of us will fail. This can reflect poorly on my service having a negative effect on future clients who read poor reviews about my services. In any relationship, both parties have to want to be there.
- Lastly, experience has shown me, unreliable clients clients are ultimately unsuccessful business leaders.
So I don’t like to waste my time on these clients as neither one of us will benefit from our relationship. It will not be a win-win. I don’t want that. I want my clients to succeed because then I succeed.
You have to walk the talk. Successful businesses know who they are, define and communicate customer expectations and deliver on them through excellence. After all, they defined what that level of excellence should be. Right?!
I ask you each to recall situations in which a business has lived up to the promised value proposition. For example: a restaurant promising a certain style of cooking but serving a nondiscript mish-mosh, a hotel in which you had an awful night’s sleep/poor experience, a product you bought that so friggin’ complicated to use it was useless to you, or a garment you bought one day and found significantly less expensive later but the retailer wouldn’t adjust the price or take it back. Basically, the list is endless. Go ahead, give it a try.