Expectations are like a cloudless, warm sunny day. You had checked the forecast for that day and it said that it was going to be sunny all day. And it will be. Sometimes, however, the weather goes against expectations and a sudden, severe thunderstorm develops out of nowhere and completely ruins your plans for the weekend.
To meet the expectations of your customers, you must first know your customers and understand their needs. It is similar to the Sun Tzu quote about knowing yourself and your enemy, only your customers aren't your enemy. If you know yourself and what you are capable of providing to them, and you know your customers as well as yourself, you will be victorious in business.
To know your customers better, gather as much information about them as you can in order to find out what they are buying, why, and how often they purchase something. To understand them even better, get a better sense of their interests, what they do for a living, and their lifestyle, all of which will affect their purchases.
Since there is always room for improvement in meeting the expectations of customers, it might be wise to offer a suggestion box for customers to inform you of what could potentially be improved upon. While there are some customers who could potentially misuse the suggestion box as they believe they are entitled to something which is not offered by your store and try to cause issues, your best customer base will support you and ensure that your business is the best it can be for what it provides to its customers.
How to Exceed Expectations
Set realistic expectations for consistent service and quality of experience. While it is tempting to strive for 100% each and every day of the year in all of the areas of your business, that is not realistic. There are going to be days where there are going to be issues with inventory, with the system being down or acting strange, or even just your employees having off days.
There will be those customers who, no matter what you try to do to please them, will not be happy and will share their story online about their supposedly terrible experience with your business. Strive to achieve satisfied customers with your excellent quality of service and good customers will return repeatedly, bringing in more potential customers with them. Once you are surrounded by a bevy of repeatedly satisfied customers who have experienced the extraordinary level of service you provide, the bad customers will be drowned out, and other potential customers will be reassured that your business is exactly what they have been looking for.