Managing expectations is always a great idea, but it’s not always simple. Consider the hiring process: Do you really know when you’ll be making a decision? Consider the calls you make to service providers: Any idea how long you’ll actually be on hold?
Shipping companies have this down to a science. Their entire business model has evolved to provide you with the most accurate delivery date and even time, and you can track packages in (pretty much) real time as well as receiving text alerts at every stage. If something unexpected happens — as you might expect it will — you’re likely to receive emails or other notifications that there’s been a disruption due to something beyond the control of mere mortals, like severe weather.
Does this model work elsewhere? It should.
The Waiting Game
On a recent visit to a doctor’s office, I arrived ten minutes before my scheduled appointment. The waiting room was pretty full, and finally it was standing room only. Still, the kindly receptionist was telling new arrivals that the doctor would be with them “in a few minutes” or “shortly”. An hour after my scheduled appointment, while I was still waiting, several thoughts had occurred to me, in this order:
- Based on popularity alone, this doctor must be one of the best.
- Blog idea: The proportion of time people are willing to wait based on perceived quality of service and critical importance of the issue. (Back surgery? Yes, I’d like the best, please.)
- There should be more chairs in here, and maybe an annex.
- We need real live Quota Management.
- Maybe they should have one of those ticketing systems like in delis or the DMV.
- Blog idea: Estimated survey completion time feature is a good move.
- What about a buzzer system like in restaurants, so I could go to a nearby coffee shop and pop back when it was my turn?
- That Seinfeld bit about knowing how to take a reservation but not how to keep a reservation.
Clearly, plenty to think about, and plenty of time for it. If you’re running a small practice, you’ve got a lot on your plate. If you’re running a survey, though, we can probably help.
- Communicate clearly: When’s the survey going out? Who’s it coming from? What’s it for? What’s going to happen with the data? Will results be shared? How long will it take to participate?
- Get specific: Let participants know how long a survey’s going to take. Now, estimated survey completion is automatically calculated by the SoGoSurvey platform, so you’ll be able to provide more details than “just a few minutes”. Plus, set Quota Management to ensure you have enough seats / appointments to go around.
- Follow up: What happens next? Ensure your post-submission thank you message includes clear details. Whether it’s assessment scores or a timeline for report sharing, give instant answers. Send Instant Thanks email messages automatically to confirm submission, or even pipe in details like selected registration details (See you on Wednesday at 10!).
Managing expectations keeps you and your participants / patients / customers / employees / etc. on the same path. Otherwise, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t reach the destination together.