'Customers Are Constantly Forming Expectations'

April 18, 2022

This MTD exclusive was provided by tire and auto industry veteran Randy O’Connor is the executive director of TEN (Training and Education Network). He can be reached at [email protected]

There’s nothing more important to any relationship than promises. On a daily basis, your customers learn what to expect from your organization and its brand through the promises you make and keep. 

But ultimately, regardless of how you’ve tried to fashion your brand, how your customers perceive you and your team is only as good as their last experience. 

No matter how intentionally you’ve designed, refined, communicated and provided a truly wonderful customer experience, the regular maintenance and delivery of your promises will determine how satisfied customers are with your organization. 

Customers are constantly forming expectations. For years, the relationships you’ve either formed or allowed to form with your customers have been built on trust. 

Your customers have trusted you enough to give you a chance, knowing that it’s easy to find another tire supplier. 

Some organizations are able to get away with delivering a subpar customer experience without losing a customer forever. However, this “leeway” doesn’t help your business and likely will contribute to a series of degraded experiences. 

It’s time to take a good, hard look at the design, implementation and maintenance of the promises your organization either makes or doesn’t make on a day-to-day and minute-by-minute basis. 

Today’s reality is quite a bit different than what any of us could have predicted even a few years ago. You’re battling inflation, supply chain challenges, staffing challenges and everything that comes along with those issues. 

Every business is a bit more stressed and customers are demanding more than ever before. This provides a tremendous opportunity to ease your customers’ stress levels. 

Given that trust was easier to come by during times of economic and social stability, a prudent goal for the remainder of 2022 would be to create a promise that not only speaks to the quality of your brand, but also is supported by the team and systems you have in place. 

Delivering on a promise is a simple transaction. Your customers needs something in a particular timeframe — with a particular price in mind, at a certain level of quality — and you either can or can’t provide it. 

A sale occurs when the value of what a customer is receiving is perceived to be greater than its price. Sounds simple, right? 

While it may be that simple in a customer’s mind, I wish it was the same for us. That’s where promise design and implementation come into play. 

Other than some time and training, with a few exceptions, the cost of making promises that reinforce your brand and deliver the truly unique experience your customer deserves is minimal. 

The sales strategy you use should be as simple to you as it seems to your consumers. And the systems behind that service must be very well-defined. 

To deliver on your promises, you must first define them. Whether your promises revolve around providing a particular product or service or something larger like how they can improve the lives of your customers, providing definition will help align the mindset of your team members. Both you and your team must have skin in the game. Mutual commitment is paramount to your business’ success. 

Given that your team members likely have a much larger influence on the way your promises are delivered, they should be the ones to design the structure of the system that supports the promises you’ve defined. You can keep the power to veto any idea or system you don’t like. But the system should be theirs — not yours. 

Create a meaningful scoreboard. Monitoring how well you are delivering on your company’s promises can be challenging. Find a way to track this without allowing it to absorb too much of your day. If you design a simple system, have your team report up. You reporting down doesn’t support true alignment and things will most likely fall in between the cracks. 

Create a habit of discussing your brand’s promises, the systems they are built on and the daily/weekly execution of those items. 

I recommend a quick, weekly meeting with those team members who have 75% or greater influence on the conversations with - and promises made to - the customer. This must be dedicated time, without allowing the chaos of commerce to intervene. Never cancel, interrupt or stop these discussions. 

I encourage you to lead a promise-driven culture by making your own promises and delivering on them, no matter what. 

Leadership promises form the basis of trust. When you do what you say you’re going to do, your team will rely on you. If your team can’t trust and rely on you, your customers will have a hard time trusting and relying on them. 

Tire and auto industry veteran Randy O’Connor is the executive director of TEN (Training and Education Network). He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, see www.mtdten.com.

About the Author

Randy O'Connor

Tire and auto industry veteran Randy O’Connor is the Owner/Principal of D2D Development Group (Dealer to Dealer Development Group.) He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, please visit www.d2ddevelopmentgroup.com.