Customer Expectations Management

2022-12-26 14:00:00
Jeven Liu
Translated 157
Summary : Are customer expectations a requirement? Is it a customer's dream or a customer's success? Neither seems accurate. The needs proposed by the customer are not exactly equal to the customer's expectations. For expression barriers, it is difficult for the average person to express what they want fully. The description is likely incomplete and not deep enough to indicate the needs behind the requirements. So, what exactly is the customer's expectation?

A project can be successful, but without management, it is difficult to ensure its profit margin, customer satisfaction, or even reach some strategic goal. For a company, most projects need to ensure that the company is profitable in general, but it is important to note that not every project has to be profitable. For example, projects with strategic importance are not sensitive to profit.

This is because the main purposes of project management include: profit generation, customer success, and strategic purposes. Software project management enables software projects to be completed successfully following the predetermined cost, schedule, quality, and the People, Product, Process, and Project Project to analyze and manage the activities involved in a wide range. Today we only talk about how to manage customer expectations.

I. What is the customer's expectation in the end?

In the capital market and real estate market, we often hear the word "expectations," such as in recent years, the national real estate control goal has been "stable housing prices, stable land prices, stable expectations" in the financial sector, we often hear "expected returns, "why would there be expectations?

It is because of the expectations arising from the uncertainty of the future. Expectations will affect investors' psychology, affecting investment behavior and the market situation. In the software industry, customers in the commissioning of software vendors to do the project is to have their expectations. Software vendors, such as not managing customer expectations, the project could be disastrous.

Are customer expectations the demand? Is it the customer's dream? Or is it the customer's success? Neither is accurate.

The requirements proposed by the customer are not the same as the customer's expectations. Due to the expression barrier, it is difficult for the average person to express what they want fully, and the description is likely to be incomplete and not deep enough, and not even indicate the needs behind the requirements.

Many customers also like to dream, dreaming that this software can achieve a certain effect, quickly bring a lot of change or revenue, or even change the fate of the enterprise. These dreams are unrealistic, and if customers take the dream as an expectation, then the expectations are too high.

Through the software, customers create value to help customers in the management or business success, which is close to customer expectations but not the same as customer expectations.

When customers plan to purchase software, there is a vague impression of this software in mind and that the software can achieve certain results and solve certain specific problems, including the final development time, cost, etc., these are customers' expectations.

II. The impact of the principal-agent relationship on expectations

As the software purchaser, the A company generally entrusts the specific responsible person (agent) to perform all the work of software procurement. The company, as the principal, puts forward framework requirements and, as a discretionary agent, supplements the requirements put forward by the principal and selects the appropriate software vendor to work with.

Often the positions of the principal and the agent are different, so there is a big difference between the expectations of the two, such as the principal is more important to customer success, cost control, and other factors. In contrast, the agent may first satisfy the principal and then the other.

The specific executor is the agent, and in the process of project execution, the agent's rights are quite large. This time the principal-agent relationship has a big impact on expectations, which requires good communication and sorting out so that the agent's expectations are aligned with the principal's expectations as much as possible.

If not handled well, it is likely to cause duplication of construction, demand out of shape, reduced customer satisfaction, and even disputes.

III. Pre-management expectations, post-management emotions

In the requirements analysis and outline design stage, the customer still has several communication links, and this time belongs to the pre-project link, the need to focus on managing customer expectations. The purpose is to control the customer's expectations appropriately and identify and eliminate risks in advance.

A project manager's excellence depends on how much he can identify and eliminate risks in advance, not on how many problems he can remedy and solve (risks not identified or properly handled in time will be converted into problems).

But the problem is often inevitable; problems arise, the customer feels the situation, and the expected beginning may have fallen. At this time, the customer is likely to have emotions. It can easily harm the project and affect the customer relationship if not handled well. The late management of customer emotions is to take remedial measures in response to customer expectations fall.

IV. Sales and pre-sales management of customer expectations

We talked about managing expectations in the early stage and emotions in the late stage, especially in the pre-sales stage, requirements analysis, and outline design stage.

Sales to win a single easy to make some promises to customers, and even some too high promises, this time requires special attention, as far as possible, do not make technically inconvenient promises, and do not make promises beyond the scope of cost control, pre-sales in doing the program, for the needs of customers to communicate fully, to avoid information asymmetry resulting in understanding errors.

Pre-sales should also be familiar with the technical boundaries, which is particularly important to make a reasonable commitment or adjust the program. Knowing the vendor to give a promise or a rejection is the most direct and effective way to influence customer expectations.

In addition, when customers put forward a demand point, such as pre-sales do not understand the technical boundaries, it isn't easy to directly give customers a reasonable solution. If you also need to go back and technical communication and reply, it affects the customer's sense of trust, and customers will think that the vendor is unprofessional.

Some vendors' sales and pre-sales are the same roles but pay attention to the same place.

V. The project manager makes sales promises to trim

As mentioned earlier, to win a single easy-to-make excessive promise to customers, similar situations occur in practice, which is a great test of the project manager's communication skills and the ability to control the customer's psychology.

After the project manager takes over the project, he needs to explain to the customer if some promises are inconvenient to achieve or more difficult to achieve, you need to give the customer a precautionary shot in advance but pay special attention to the way of communication, by explaining to the customer the uncertainty of objective conditions (such as technology) or the uncertainty of the preconditions may cause the fact that the previous sales promises can not be achieved so that the customer agrees and understands so that customers do not have emotion.

VI. Pay attention to the prototype design

For projects with customization, prototyping is critical. The essence of prototyping is managing customer expectations.

Before the formal development of the project to let customers see what they feel about the future delivery of the project, including UI, interaction, logic, architecture, etc., the customer began to plan to do the project in the mind of the expected impression outlined to become more specific is also to reduce the information asymmetry between the customer and the vendor.

This specific prototype effect may be different from the customer's initial expectations. Still, it is much more convenient to adjust the prototype than to adjust the code later, which is why prototyping should be done, and special attention should be paid to it. Some vendors will move the prototype design to the pre-sales stage and present it to the customer with the program, which is also a very good way to manage customer expectations and gain customer trust. Still, of course, attention should be paid to controlling the initial investment Costs.

VII. Let customers understand the specific progress of the project

Management of expectations in the pre-sales stage does not mean that there is no need to manage expectations in the medium term, as far as possible, to keep customers informed of the project progress, such as regular communication with customers on progress; such as weekly communication on project progress, the project manager can feedback the project progress to the customer employing Gantt charts, which can also be used to collect some suggestions from customers on the project, and further communication on unclear details, in addition to the project and expected deviations should be Take the initiative to communicate with the client as soon as possible.

VIII. By adjusting expectations to achieve different results

Expectations can be adjusted through commitment, and rejection is possible to adjust customer expectations. When the need to raise customer expectations, you can promise the effect or take the initiative to give a better solution to achieve the purpose, such as customers hope that the page loading speed of 100ms, to give customers a stronger sense of trust in the vendor, you can take the initiative to put forward higher expectations, tell customers to promise to reach 80ms, the customer's expectations then immediately elevated.

On the contrary, the customer will lower expectations by laying out some objective reasons to reject the customer's request properly. This situation is generally because of technical difficulties. To avoid disappointing customers, take the initiative to reduce customer expectations in advance to avoid customer dissatisfaction later.

IX. Written in the end: communication is the core productivity

We notice that the management of customer expectations is inseparable from effective communication. Through communication to outline customer expectations and adjust customer expectations, the ultimate goal is the project's success. Communication carries out the entire project management process and makes it possible to manage customer expectations.

Without effective communication, customer expectations will not change much from the beginning to the end of the project. The customer's perception will not improve, so that that big differences will arise, and the project will likely fail.

Managing customer expectations determines the success of the project, communication determines the success of managing customer expectations, and understanding of human nature determines the success of communication, "a good project manager understands human nature very well" is the last point of this article.

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