Reverse Management is in essence a process whereby an organization’s strategic management is developed from the customer’s Level 2 expectations. Additionally, Level 2 expectations are defined as unforeseen customer expectations that are two steps ahead of traditional or regular expectations. This means that the customer expectations of a certain product or service are exceeded by asking “how can we exceed that?”… Twice. Allow me to elaborate.
Assume you walk into a steak house for dinner with your friends. Your basic expectation is that you will be served a good steak for dinner. Additionally, you also expect that the place be clean, have a nice atmosphere, be served by trained and supportive waiters and hopefully a nice good list of various wines. These, more or less, are the fixed expectations of customers walking into any restaurant, and realizing these expectations will surely put a smile on the customers’ face, with the prospect of returns and referrals.
Now imagine you walk into another steak house, which has met the basic expectations, but placed a complementary bottle of wine on each table, while maintaining an acceptable market price for the food and service. At this point, the customer’s expectations have been upped one level. The restaurant has exceeded the expectations of their customers by generously offering them something not anticipated, but highly desirable. Now add to that a restaurant that does all of the above and additionally delivers a complementary cheesecake or apple pie, along with the free wine bottle, for a party of six or more. At this point the customer expectations have been upped 2 levels.
Level 2 expectations can be met in any industry. A construction company building small houses for a client may exceed the expectations by finishing the project before the deadline, Level 1, while adding extra finishing’s, such as a grade “A” kitchen when the customer was content with a grade “B” kitchen, Level 2, without additional cost. Now you may reply that this is additional cost on the organization which may hinder the revenue and profit margin. Well, that is true merely when the organization does not structure its strategic plan upon it. When the strategic plan pedestals Level 2 expectations as its end goal, the team and staff will innovate ideas, or Level 2 expectations, that will have the least impact on the current expenditures, while incorporating the highest ROI from customers and market share.
When an organization asks “how can we exceed the expectations of our customer?” it starts shifting the gears towards unparalleled innovation in customer satisfaction. After the organization answers the first question and decides on what extravagance will be offered to the customer, the leaders will have to ask the second question: “How can we exceed that (Level 1)?” This brings on additional innovative concepts as well as underscoring the importance of customer satisfaction throughout the organization. It is one thing to say you care about your customers, it is another thing to act upon it.
Once the organization has a keen understanding of the level 2 expectations, the management will have to devise the strategic plan based upon it. Besides the noticeable targets that have now been outlined, the missions, values and end goals can all be aligned with Level 2 expectations. The principle is fairly simple. Identify Level 2 expectations and reverse them back into strategic planning. This is significant because employing reverse management, the organization has the ability to align its strategic plan with the customer’s unarticulated expectations, which evidently constitute a path to the customer’s over-satisfaction. Reverse Management is therefore the ultimate method, when aligned with Level 2 expectations, to open a door for innovation towards improved customer satisfaction.
In summary, the process is based on four steps:
- Define what the customers expect from your service to be completely satisfied.
- Ask “What can we do to exceed that?”
- Ask “What more can we do to exceed that?”
- Reverse the results backs into your strategic plan.
Achieving the correct Level 2 expectations of customers may require well-structured customer satisfaction analysis, data gathering, surveys, market research and so on. Although the organization asks itself internally “what can we do to exceed that?” it is still bound by understanding the trends, behaviors and wants of its customers in order to align them with Level 2 expectations. Achieving the wrong Level 2 expectations will result in a reversed strategic plan that serves no one and thus fails to have any positive impact in the organization.