We all have expectations for goods and services. We base our evaluations of products using those expectations. Performance exceeds expectations and we’re satisfied. Performance does not meet expectations and we’re dissatisfied. So as a business, what should we do with this information?
Well, the answer is complicated. We aim to put our best foot forward with our marketing efforts. We promote our company and products in the most positive way. Why? Because that is what attracts customers to us. But there is a problem. Based on how successful we are in painting ourselves in a positive light, consumers can come to us with super high expectations. The higher the expectations, the greater the chances that we are not going to meet them.
So do we do things to create lower expectations in consumers? Well, you can, but then you have another problem. If you don’t promote yourself so highly, consumers might not be attracted to you in the first place.
The best approach is to take a balanced approach. Don’t make claims of performance that you cannot match. Don’t promise food to a customer’s table in 10 minutes unless you can actually deliver that. Set realistic expectations for the consumers. In this example, if you know it takes around 10 minutes to get food out, add a small buffer to that and communicate it to consumers. If you tell customers it will be 10 minutes and it takes 11, they might get a little impatient. If you promise 15 minutes and it takes 11, they will be happy it was early.
Another tactic is to couple expectations with a guarantee of some sort. Promise a certain level of quality or service and back it up with a refund or some other compensation. This will help consumers manage their own expectations. If you do this, you will need to make sure you are able to meet those expectations consistently. Because if you cannot, you will be paying out frequently on the guarantee and that is not good for business.
Managing and dealing with expectations is always a challenge. Consumers are more demanding than ever. So have a plan in place to manage expectations and address the ramifications if they are not met.