How well do you know and understand your customers’ expectations?

And why are they important?

Merriam-Webster defines an expectation as a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.

But where do those beliefs, those expectations come from?

There are a variety of ways that customer expectations are formed:

  • brand promise
  • marketing and advertising
  • stated outright, e.g., we do X
  • previous experience
  • word of mouth or reviews and feedback from other customers
  • from within ourselves, our own set of morals and values and how we would treat others

Expectations are funny things.

  • Customers have them, but they are not in control of them, not in control of the outcomes.
  • Customers have them, but companies must know them and understand them.
  • Companies set them (brand promise, service delivery, documentation, etc.), yet they have trouble delivering against them (consistently).

Understanding your customers’ expectations helps you deliver against them – and deliver a great experience. The equation goes: Performance – Expectations = Satisfaction. When the company and its employees know and understand those expectations, they can develop products and services, deliver service, interact with customers, and more in such a way that ensures they meet or exceed those expectations.

Yup. Expectations are funny things. It’s why we see some of the quotes that we see, like…

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. -Alexander Pope

You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you. Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon

I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations. -Bill Watterson

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus. -Stephen Hawking

Expectation is the root of all heartache. -William Shakespeare

Because expectations are important and interesting, they’re a topic that makes the rounds of discussions, podcasts, and blog posts. Great to keep them alive!

So it was great when, last week, Stan Phelps and I were invited to join the CMSConnected Show to answer the question, “Are Expectations Too High for Customer Experience?” It was an engaging discussion, with hosts Stephen Saber and Scott Liewehr digging in to really try to understand the why behind these expectations. We answered questions like:

  • How do you define customer experience management?
  • Are customer expectations a myth?
  • How do companies measure and gauge customer expectations?
  • How are expectations increasing?
  • Why are expectations increasing?

To hear the answers to those questions and more, please have a listen to the show.

The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations. -Roy H. Williams, Author, Wizards of Ads trilogy