The dangerous power of expectations


The problem with promises, implicit or tacit, is that they create expectations.  So what?

Here’s the problem with that:

As business owners we make promises, whether you want to or not.  When we make a promise we are creating the future for other people.  People come and expect that something will happen within a reasonable delay and with respect and a fair price.

I have stopped using stores for numerous reasons, all related to failed expectations.

One of the local sporting stores wanted to charge me for warentee support for a product that they sell and carried a lifetime guarentee!


I had to chase after the regional distributor and then finally the manufacturer in Germany to get warranty service from my local vendors.  It took me almost two years of intermittent effort to get a lifetime guarantee honoured.

This is exactly the opposite of what we expect of a company that offers a strong warranty on their products.  No one said to me when I purchased my product that the service would be fast and easy.  They just said that they would replace them if they broke due to manufacturers defects.  But our expectations turn around something will happen within a reasonable delay and with respect and a fair price.

So the only way for us to satisfy our clients is to allow them live fulfilled expectations.  So it is up to us to manage the things that we can.

We have to justify:

  • the time it takes
  • the price
  • and the relationships

If you can manage those things then you will be able to have happy clients with fulfilled expectations. They will thus have nothing but good things to say about them because you held up your end of the bargain.

Be proactive and control the promises and turn any tacit agreements into voiced agreements so that people won’t be surprised by their own expectations being unfulfilled!

Good luck and take control.

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The Double Edged Blade of Charm


Charm is a wonderful thing.

I love a charmer, someone who comes along with a big smile and is eager to help.  That is the best kind of reception that we can receive; if they have a desire to fulfil your desires and expectations.  All of these things are really pleasant to find in your environment.

But there is another side to the charmer’s personality.  They expect you to say yes to their effort.  They are not used to being denied for no other reason but you don’t feel like it.  You are supposed to be polite and accept their effort as cash and feel bad if you say no.  So, we as customers will avoid that guilty feeling of denying effort by saying yes.

That works with lots of people, but not really.  If you leave with the feeling of being taken advantage of you will be an unhappy customer and avoid that store in the future because you don’t like that icky feeling of being used.

So it is important that your best charmers are well trained in being able to take no as an acceptable answer to their charm.

It was quite funny this morning when I was sitting in the coffee shop where I wrote this article and I wasn’t quite ready for anything and a lovely waitress comes up with the full blown charm machine running and asks if I would like a good capuccino or a café au lait in a bowl…I said not yet; and I was briefly reminded of Bilbo’s Gollum moment in the Lord of the Rings:


I think I was momentarily scared…fortunately there were witnesses so I was okay.

But it is to be remembered as the supervisor of the sales force that our clients are more than just tools to fulfil  our objectives.  They need to be listened to and empathised with.  So make sure your charmers leave the clients charmed and not mildly terrified, queasy or guilty.

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Respect vs. duty: The Forgotten Power of Complicity

In any hierarchical relationship there is the a social contract in play.  You may ask “Why are you writing about this, Aaron?” and you’ll see that it makes a difference to your clients how your employees feel about their work and workplace.

This image comes to mind…

underpaid worker

This whole thing is related to broken window theory.  The less you maintain your workplace the less people respect it, the more you maintain it the better people feel about being there.  As the owner of your business, you have to provide a number of things to your employees to make sure that they feel that they are respected and honoured individuals in the work place.  If you can manage this you will create something far more important than DWYL(do what you love).  Because people are far more interested in working at a place that respects them and treats them as honoured members of the team than they are in simply getting paid.  That doesn’t mean we can underpay workers it just means that once fair wages are in place we have to begin with aspiration management.  So I will argue that as both employee and employer, the most important feature of our personal self-respect is the ability to accomplish goals and advance our perception of what we think we should be doing.

So should you love your job? No, but you should be able to respect what you do and the people that you do it with and for.  When we get up in the morning and we look forward to working with our co-workers, because we have fun together, the world is a different place.

When we get up in the morning and you’re going to work with a gang of morons, it’s harder to get out of bed.  So choose people and employees based on whether you think that you can respect them.

Now I walk into two different businesses and here is what happens

1) respect absent:

There is tension in the environment and the people destined to serve the clients are under motivated.  They are there to collect their pay-cheque until they find another job.  I am disinterested to buy here because I become uncomfortable in the environment.

2) Respect present:

People are having fun and like to work with the people in their environment and feel more at ease working as a team.  I get better service and am at ease dealing with the people, because I am also being respected in the environment.

So the more effort you put into maintaining the excellent relations inside your company the better your client relations will be and the more your business will flourish.

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Apple drives its business. Permission marketing in action

This is not a I love Apple article…so anti-apple people, Stop.  It just happens that I had a great client experience with them.

If you want to know why the Apple Stores do so well, well there is a customer service aspect that goes beyond the whole design, it just works whoop,whoop thing.

We are currently evaluating what kind of IT equipment we will transition to for the next generation of computers, smart-phones, etc.

One of those options is to go into the closed garden that is Apple.  We are tempted.  And I have to say the pre-sale experience has been impressive so far, and I’ll tell you why.

  • Follow ups
  • Interest
  • Listening

They have been there when I called and I was impressed by their capacity to listen recommend products and solutions that they have as well as taking the time to write personalized letters and make jokes in them as well as making sure to be there when they say they will be and they have followed up in a respectful manner.  They are an excellent example of permission marketing.

What is permission marketing, simple, just ask if your allowed to do things before you do them! IE

  • May I call you back?
  • Can I answer any other questions?
  • May I ask you a question?
  • Can I give you any other information to help you with your decision?
  • Do you think you’ll be making a decision in the next few weeks
  • May I call you back after that date?

So when we ask our clients what they want we feel respected and it makes us responsible for our relations with them  their actions and our feelings towards them.  It is the new wave and it is so much better than older methods.

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Proactive service, driving your clients

I recently attended a screwup, at a funeral on top of it!

The obituary in the paper said the visitation would begin at 10:00am while the funeral home had the schedule down for 11:00. People were standing in the hall for 45 minutes before they opened the door!

So where was the first failure?
Obviously it starts when the funeral director hasn’t noticed that an obituary has been posted with the wrong time!
Next the staff hasn’t been notified that people will be arriving early.
The family wasn’t made aware that people would be early.
The room wasn’t ready until the last minute.

I come from a school of thinking that how to organize something starts with the end result in mind and the time you want to finish as place we begin, or said otherwise we start with the end.

So in this case I would go like this.

11:00 am doors open
10:30 am everything is ready
9:00 am call family if something is wrong
8:00 am staff arrives and begins to start preparations for the day
Previous day, verify all the obituary ads, online and paper to be able to anticipate the schedule for the next day!

So now I have to capacity to anticipate that my schedule the next day will be inadequate because I know, before people show up at the door that there was a screw-up and I can accommodate my clients so that the problem is extenuated and so even if I can’t accommodate people in the room that they are supposed to be in they are not milling around in the hallway because people are already in a delicate emotional state. If someone melts down in the hallway everyone is uncomfortable.

It’s not hard to be proactive but it does take a plan. And a desire to be so things in the best way possible.

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A request for the best!

“Don’t wear that! It makes you look poor!” Is that something to say to a woman in maternity wear 3 months after giving birth? Was that rude? Not when my grandmother says it!

And now I’ll tell you why! When we communicate there is a second level of communications that rests behind the words that we say. That level of communications is as important or more than the words that we have spewed out into the world.

In this case there was consideration and respect behind the words ” don’t wear that, it makes you look poor.”

There is also another layer to the communication that was there, and it was the following: You are a pretty, intelligent and driven woman who deserves to look beautiful and successful stop wearing stuff that makes you look like a balloon! And there was truth behind that as well. My wife looked at her and she said…”your right!” And her wardrobe changed almost over night.

When we are a request for the best from our environnement and we look towards our surrounding to lift itself up and generate themselves as the best that they can be for themselves, sometimes it takes words that shake us up. Words that aren’t the nice ones. Words that make us stop and think. And all things can be delivered with tact and politesse even if the words would otherwise be seen as offensive.

I also wrote an obituary recently that generated some controversy when someone read it because of the choice of words. And I had to stand my ground on the content of that text until the other person came back to me and said…”you know what? [I love this…]You were right.”

You can get away with almost anything if you deliver your communications with the appropriate levels of concern, consideration and appreciation for the perspective of the others involved in receiving the communications that you have to deliver!

Commit yourselves, make sure you have something to say…and SAY IT!

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