Doing some research for a client a few weeks ago, one of the things people had to say about their service experience was approximately this: 'please make sure I know everything I need to know.'
Consumers often take responsibility for 'not knowing the right questions to ask' -- I've heard this sentiment many times in experience research. They blame themselves for not asking what they should have known to ask... crazy, isn't it? Because that's why you are talking to a representative of the company in the first place. Unless the reps are just order-takers.
It's the feeling that the company rep actually know the pitfalls, but they're not telling you unless you ask a direct question on that topic. It's like some weird game show.
I've had this experience in my business several times recently. There's a whole industry that supports qualitative marketing research, called "field." These are the people who own the facilities, make the phone calls to invite respondents, and manage all the details, like catering. No matter how carefully we try to manage the field costs, the final invoice always seems to have a little surprise. Sometimes several surprises. On a big project, by the end of the thing, it's enough to fund an upgrade in airfare, or a dirty weekend in a country inn.
And because I try not to surprise the clients with a bazillion little nickel and dime charges, these extras invariably come out of my pocket.
Even though I put up a few of the lyrics to one of the funniest songs you'll ever hear -- Master of the House -- I don't really think it's as bad as all that. But there is a reluctance to tell you everything you need to know. People want to win the bid with a low up-front cost. Then they add on everything else as you go along.
But here's what you need to know: This kind of thing damages loyalty. Period. Full stop.
So tell your customers what they need to know. That's what the very best service operations do, when they provide advice. Full transparency.
As for myself, one of these days I hope I'll know all the right questions to ask.
Lyrics to "Master of the House" by Herbert Kretzmer , part of musical Les Miserables, found here.