A Power Outage, A Cable Bill, And Getting Out In Front Of Customer Expectations
BY Don Peppers – Fast Company
To paraphrase Warren Buffet, the secret to good customer relationships is the same as the secret to any good marriage: low expectations. But customer expectations today are rising more rapidly than ever before, which presents a problem–as well as an opportunity–for your business.
Technology is the culprit, driving a dramatic increase in the speed and volume of interaction. And whenever two people interact–either face to face or online–one of the most important subtexts of that interaction is trust. If we don’t trust each other, any interaction between us just won’t be very efficient. We might even have to call a lawyer or an accountant to provide security against being deceived or cheated. Trust greatly improves the speed and efficiency of interacting, so the more interacting we do, the more trust we come to expect from others. In addition, the transparency that comes with more interaction makes it more difficult to keep secrets, driving more demand for trust. Teenagers, for instance, will tell you it’s much harder to cheat on their boyfriends or girlfriends than it was before everyone was on Facebook.
Rising levels of interactivity mean that customers are coming to expect a higher standard of trust not just from the people they interact with but from the businesses they deal with, as well. They want a kind of Extreme Trust, or something that Martha Rogers and I call “trustability,” which we define as “proactive trustworthiness.” It’s no longer sufficient for a business simply to do what it says it’s going to do and charge what it says it’s going to charge. That would certainly be trustworthy–it’s not cheating or lying–but it’s not trustable.