Re: How to look good in your customer's eyes

Subject: Re: How to look good in your customer's eyes
From: "Michael Feimster" <feim68 -at- bellsouth -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 23:04:31 -0500

Andrew Plato wrote:
>Let me get this right...the way to look good is to set low expectations so
>you do better than those easy to meet expectations, you look great??

>Whoa. That is lame.

>You should always set high expectations and work hard to meet them. I can
>respect a person who shoots high and missed than a person who shoots low
>barely makes it.

Actually my comment had more to do with setting customer's expectations. Not
my own, Let me put this into context. My comment was in regards to dealing
with clients. Before beginning my career as a tech writer, I worked in sales
and software. In those capacities, I found that one of our biggest problems
was promising things we could not deliver.

For example, when I worked in support, one of my primary responsibilities
was to fix corrupt data files. This required clients to send their data in
to my department. In most cases these files could be fixed in one day. But,
we could only do so much in one day. It might take a couple of days to get
to a specific set of data. If I promised a client their data would be fixed
in one day, but it took three days to get to it, I have failed to meet her
expectations. This would have been an unreasonable expectation that I helped
set. However, if I told the client there was a five day turnaround, and I
delivered her data in 4 days, then I have exceeded her expectations.

(I know, in a perfect world, clients shouldn't have to send their data in to
be fixed, but I live in South Carolina, not Fantasy Land.)

>Personally, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror with this attitude. My
>might not always make my customers a billion dollars, but like hell will I
>over something that wasn't the absolute best I could do.

My comment was a slight twist on one of John Posada's comments. John wrote,
"Hold yourself to a slightly higher quality standard then what the customer
is expecting." My comment had nothing to do with setting low expectations
for myself. Instead, it dealt with setting the customer's expectations. For
example, if I tell a customer that every task one would want to perform with
our software will be documented, I will fail to meet that expectation. As
hard as I try, someone will want to perform a task that no one conceived.
However, if I set the customer's expectations at a more reasonable level, I
have a better chance of meeting, or exceeding his expectations.

>The problem with the shoot low attitude is that each subsequent project,
>shoot a little lower. Until finally, your work is total crap and people are
>laughing at your documents.

I must be doing something right since I have been promoted to department
manager. I did not get this position by setting low expectations for myself.
I will admit to setting realistic expectations for my boss, but I have
overseen a major overhaul of our software's documentation, as well as
several Web content initiatives. In most cases we have been able to meet his
expectations. One project my department worked helped reduce the "busy"
period in our support department from 6 weeks to 2 weeks.

As I said before, my comment referred to setting customer's expectations. I
did not mean to imply that I was setting low expectations for myself. (I
think my department will agree that I do not set low expectations for them

Mike Feimster
Information Design & Development
Computer Dimensions, Inc.

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Re: How to look good in your customer's eyes: From: Andrew Plato

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