The impact of setting expectations

\At a hotel the other day I saw a sign set out with traffic light symbols to denote when they were busiest and the best times to get breakfast when in a hurry.

At a recent hospital appointment I was warned I could be there for 4 hours and I wouldn’t be seen immediately. I was seen about half an hour after I arrived and left in 3 hours and 40 minutes.

What do these two incidents have in common? They set my expectations so I knew what to anticipate would happen and adjust accordingly.

The result? I queued for 3 minutes to get a table for breakfast and felt I had been seated quickly; while I left the hospital thinking they had been more efficient than I had expected.

In my opinion the art of great communication is to remove doubt before others know they have any and that’s what both these companies did!

This isn’t just important when you are delivering customer service. When was the last time you had an argument with your partner, child or friend? Think back carefully and consider if the cause of your row was a misunderstanding because one of you hadn’t set the others expectation?

Recently I agreed to meet a friend in London at 6pm. At 5.05 I texted to say I was on the train (which should have meant I would be there 15 minutes early). What I forgot to do was say I was going to do an errand on the way – I arrived at 6.05pm and she was irritated I was 20 minutes late.

My fault! I had reset her expectation!

Why am I telling you this?

If you provide a service or a product it is essential to set your customers’ expectations but equally (if you want to have harmony at home) it’s important to remember your partner, family and friends don’t have a degree in mind reading either!

Comments are closed.