One of the vital parts of the marketing plan of a service industry is managing the customer’s expectations.
The service organization should try to manage the customers’ expectations in all the stages of the purchasing process, i.e., pre-purchase, service encounter, and post-purchase.
1. During the Pre-Purchase Phase: For managing customer expectations in the pre-purchase stage, three steps to be followed, which are as follows:
i. Determining what the Customers Expect: The key to understanding the customers’ expectations during the pre-purchase stage is ‘communication.’ Questions must be asked by service personnel and sales personnel so as to learn the customer expectations.
ii. Communicating the Customers about what they can expect: The best strategy for handling customer expectations in the pre-purchase stage is communicating with the customers about what can be expected by them.
The methods used for this purpose may be sales promotions, advertising, point-of-purchase displays, sales and service personnel, tangible cues, etc.
iii. Consistently Providing the Expected Services to the Customers: Customer expectations can also be managed by offering consistent services to customers.
By doing this, customers tend to develop realistic expectations from the service providers and become loyal to them. Customers will help in further marketing the company through word-of-mouth communications.
2. During the Service Encounter: During the service encounter, the following three strategies can be used for managing customer expectations:
- Communication with the customers by service personnel,
- Modifying the services as per the customer’s expectations and
- In case it is not possible to alter the service, the reasons for it should be duly explained by the service personnel.
3. During the Post-Purchase Phase: The process of managing consumer expectations does not end at the service-encounter stage. There are three strategies that can be adopted during the post-purchase stage, which are as follows:
- The service providers should communicate with the customers at the end of delivery of the service to understand whether it met the desired standards.
- Service providers can carry out a follow-up program in the form of an evaluation survey or feedback form, which could be sent to the customer through e-mail or phone.
- Service providers should design a procedure to deal with dissatisfied customers. Chances of repeat purchases can be increased by modifying customer expectations.