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How Do You Meet New Customer Expectations?

Acquiring a new customer is a time for celebration. But in today’s environment, it’s especially rewarding. All too often, however, deals start to unravel once the baton is passed to onboarding. This is when the gap between customer expectations and their actual experience begins to bubble to the surface.

Unclear customer expectations are typically caused by sales and marketing tactics that inadvertently overpromise when looking to acquire new customers. While the company may win a few extra deals, the inability to fulfill the wants and needs of new customers leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction, and eventually, customer churn.

That’s why the entire customer-facing organization from Product Development and Marketing to Sales and support needs to collaborate on the topic of customer expectations. These groups should all work to create a consistent and accurate message when prospects and customers interact with the brand.

3 Common Drivers of New Customer Dissatisfaction

A lack of clear customer expectations for new accounts should be a top concern for your organization as it can impact time-to-value and place negative tones on the engagement, the customer relationship, your reputation, and ultimately, employee morale.

What are some of the biggest drivers of dissatisfaction among newer customers? Typically, we see three categories where customer perception and reality don’t align:

1. The product doesn’t function as expected.

Customers purchase your product based on the outcomes they expect to achieve. Frustration sets in when the “functionality” they were promised or the feature they require do not actually meet these expectations. We see this a lot during the new customer onboarding surveys and customer churn interviews we conduct on behalf of our clients.

A Customer Churn report we recently delivered focused on inconsistencies between the sales pitch and the actual offering. The client lost $218K in annual reoccurring revenue (ARR) because of misaligned expectations and placed the company in a situation where they could not recover.

2. The support experience isn’t what the customer thought.

For new customers, the initial training and support experience is critical. Is your approach to training a “one-size-fits-all” mentality? What steps must customers take to reach support? How quickly is your team responding to inquiries for assistance? Are you providing a consistent service experience across all touchpoints?

When new customers need to jump through hoops to resolve an issue you not only fail to deliver a positive customer experience, but you also create unnecessary extra work. This brings me to the next point below…

3. The effort required of the customer is greater than they expected.

There is a set amount of time and effort that customers often devote to either get your product up and running or to ensure that the engagement is firing on all cylinders. During the sales process, your company undoubtedly set expectations about their role in the onboarding process, and what will be required of them to achieve widespread adoption. We’ve seen feedback in Customer Satisfaction Surveys or Net Promoter Score surveys that the frustration among key stakeholders about more effort than expected being required can linger for years.

Again, setting the right expectations here is key. Ensure your sales, support and onboarding teams are all aligned on what will be required of the new customer, and how much time they’ll need to invest. Additionally, Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) can help to ensure you have a direct link to the voice of your customers to understand if they’ve had success adopting and fully leveraging your product.

Why Customer Onboarding Is Important

If the onboarding process isn’t smooth, consistent, or fails to meet expectations, customers won’t realize the early benefits of partnering with your firm. Therefore, we recommend a post onboarding survey as it assesses satisfaction during the initial stage of engagement. By capturing this insight, you’ll identify steps you can take to improve the onboarding process, shorten time-to-value, and increase customer retention.

It’s also important to note that identifying the customer support process should be prioritized as a discussion point during the sales process. This will help to ensure that customers are clear of the value and benefits and reduce the support related disconnect that often occurs.

As our clients have learned, providing a great customer experience begins with proper alignment on what the product or service is designed to do. Before any misalignments affect your customers or harm the company’s reputation in the market, it’s critical that you take the time to understand customer expectations so you can deliver experiences that prove you’re worth the investment.