The essence of customers’ expectations is about customers’ needs and requirements. The needs are harder to identify as they are more profound than the requirements which are pretty obvious and straightforward. Therefore, we need to identify the degree in which these elements are present through a survey. We need to quantify customers’ perception about the quality of our service given that customers do not (or should not) always expect ‘the best’ from us as this is subject to the cost and time available for completing the project rather than our capability and experience.
Any questionnaire should consist of quantifiable/measurable elements rated in a scale of 0-100% tolerance against customers’ standards. The same survey should then form part of our service benchmark completed by the client (benchmark the demand for service). This means that we should ideally carry out a customers’ expectation survey once we undertake the project, then using the same survey for having our performance measured by the client so we can check how well we perform through the customer’s eyes (customers shouts) and identify the areas of improvement prior to getting on site. Lastly, on the project’s practical completion we need to carry out the final satisfaction survey.
Three are the key elements to the customer’s expectations.
- Competitive advantage (the wow factor that differentiates our brand from the competitors)
The questions is how elastic/inelastic are the above from the customers’ perspective? Meaning:
- What factors the customer feels as essential, prerequisites? Must have, the basics? (for example: H&S issues)
- What factors add value to the service/product for the customers? It is about good performance, deliver what we promise (for example: min cost and time, higher quality)
- What is the ‘wow’ factor of our service? Do we add value that the customer doesn’t expect? (Satisfy the ‘greedy’ customers. Once the basics, or expected requirements are met then they ask for more!)
- Being successful means that not only we should offer what customers expect but also what they don’t expect.
The input would be: customers’ requirements and lessons learnt which are turned into the output: improved quality approach and structure, calibrate the service to meet demands
Knowing our customers needs, requirements and expectations provides us with better visibility thus, better forward planning avoiding bad surprises and implications which can put the project’s quality at risk.