If you’re old enough, you might remember Lt. Columbo, the absent-minded, rumpled detective whose catchphrase was, “Oh, one more thing.” This was always followed by a question his suspect didn’t expect. Enough of these, and he’d eventually catch the suspect in a lie. Case closed.

Columbo asked these unexpected questions in order to keep his suspects off-balance, never quite knowing what to expect. It helped him solve crimes, but as a business owner, what you want for your prospects and customers is exactly the opposite. As a prospect, knowing what to expect makes it easier for you to buy. And getting what you expect is what makes for a great customer experience.

What’s it like when this doesn’t happen? Here are two recent examples.

Professionally my partners and I applied for a loan to finance the build-out of our new office. Although this is something our bank has done thousands of times, it took much longer than they said it would. And at every turn, they kept asking us for additional information (“Oh, one more thing. . .”), all of which seemed like information they should have known at the outset they were going to need.

Personally, my wife and I hired a general contractor to renovate our main bathroom. The contractor does hundreds of projects like this for a major home improvement retailer. During the project, we were handed off four times - from the person who quoted the job to the person who did permits and scheduling, to an in-office project manager, and then to an on-site supervisor.  We weren’t informed of these handoffs. It always seemed like a different person was in charge, and we had no idea who to call for what.

The problem? These organizations failed to explain in advance how we were going to work together.  They set no clear expectations as to timing, steps, or handoffs. This created unnecessary confusion and frustration. With the contractor, my wife and I felt lost. With the bank, my partners and I felt like we were being pecked to death by a duck. I came away feeling like it would be hard for me to recommend either one to someone else.

When you fail to set, and then deliver on, clear customer expectations, the message you send is that you’re making it up as you go.

In EOS®, we have a simple tool, which we call the Proven Process™, to prevent this. It’s a sales tool that explains to your prospects and customers exactly what they can expect to experience - from start to finish – if they decide to work with you. It consists of 4 – 7 steps, is named, and is illustrated graphically.

Here is the Proven Process for working with an EOS® Implementer:

It lays out clearly the steps in working together and lets us show (not just tell) our prospects the experience what they can expect. It sends the message that we know what we’re doing.

Could your business benefit from this simple tool?  Give it a try and see if it helps you close more business!!