When you’re a service-based business, your users are your most important assets and the success of your services depends on a user-focused experience. But, the reality is that depending on your users frame of mind and where they’re coming from, their needs and expectations can change, and your service must be able to adapt to a dynamic environment.
So, as a service-provider, what can you do in order to better manage expectations and maintain a similar experience for your users despite their environmental factors?
Well, in order to expectation-proof your service, one of the first steps is to segment your personas and, then, devise a demand model. It’s important to know and understand your users’ needs inside and out, and make sure your service is able to meet these needs. There may be multiple needs with varying importance, some more timely or critical than others.
Through a Demand Model, you’re able to demonstrate to your users how you’re able to meet their needs. A Demand Model will define the marketing approach to building awareness and creating demand, and also guide your users through messages over time that not only creates demand for a service, but also pre-frames the context of the service by setting a pattern for tone and user-engagement. This helps manage expectations and also depicts how needs are met by the service, matching their needs to your solutions.
Over the course of a user’s journey, from end-to-end through a service, these messages trigger emotions. Recognizing what these emotions are and what the triggers are can help you manage them. Using a Journey Map, you’re able to see when these triggers occur, what events of the users journey set off these triggers, and how these emotions may vary based on event and persona. While there may be uncontrollable environmental shifts, the stages of your journey can strategically prompt your audience to shift focus and move through predefined steps.
Urgency, social proof, testimonials, strategic calls to action and case studies are all powerful techniques to shift focus. Imagine you’re buying concert tickets and you’re looking at a chart of where all of the seats are located. You see the seats filling up all around you and have a timer indicating how long you have to make a purchase – otherwise you’ll be locked out from purchasing. This is a mechanism to manage your focus and have you reprioritize the importance of your thoughts. For the time you’re working with the ticket-provider, the service has your undivided attention. You’ll be receiving messages during this time that define your experience. The style and personality of these messages can affect your mood. The speed of the journey and the method of delivery can affect your satisfaction. With these mechanisms,distractions are removedand the service creates standardization in its steps, all leading to similar experiences, expectations and satisfaction levels.
Service Blueprints are also helpful in managing expectations and meeting user’s needs because they focus on storyboarding a service and visualizing how the program or service looks and feels to users, while matching their experiences to the backend systems that go unseen, but are often felt by the users when hiccups occur.
A quality service succeeds by addressing user needs and adapting to shifts in expectations, all leading back to predefined service outcomes and similar experiences. A quality service will consistently achieve favorable service outcomes and will be able to withstand the dynamic variables outside of their control. With proper standardization and attention to user needs at every stage of designing a service, a quality service can thrive.