What Expectations Do Your Customers Hold?

My coursework in Understanding Customer Experience this week discussed aspects of customer expectations, satisfaction, and quality. These lessons are tying in nicely with the Neuromarketing course I’m taking and it’s been eye-opening to discover elements of what I thought was “common business sense” be upturned by researchers.

For example, I think we’ve all heard the phrase “underpromise and overdeliver” as a way to “surprise and delight” our customers. And for a long time in my marketing career, I believed that was the way to go. But in process of learning about expectations, it seems that the higher the customer’s expectations, the higher the satisfaction the customer will report – unless there is such a huge discrepancy between the expectation and actual performance. As Professor Margareta Friman noted, disconfirmation needs to be high to break expectations.

Think about that for a minute…let’s say your customers have fairly low expectations of your product. You actually produce a top-notch, high-quality product with a great, well-trained support staff. But your customer calls your highly trained customer service rep, has a good interaction, receives your product, and works as promised. Unless your product and service completely blows that customer out of the water, there is not enough variance between his or her expectations and the actual performance. So the expectations never move in the customer’s mind.

Compare that to an example one of my classmates highlighted, a certain company that produces smartphones and tablets. For months, the company builds anticipation and sets the customer expectations very high about their next product release. “Leaks” about the features, the design, and other aspects of the product happen, building the expectations of the customers to fever pitch before the actual product launch. Once the product hits the stores, there are lines around the block to purchase the next-generation, even though the next-gen might not have exactly have ground-breaking features. But those expectations were so high that those line-waiters never came back with their shiny new toy and said to others “hmmm, the product is just ehhh”. No, instead those fan-boys and girls (I think I’m one of them) are the best advertisement for that company and are so fiercely loyal that debates with people loyal to the “others” can get pretty heated.

Those expectations were sky high, but the product wasn’t so awful that there was enough disconfirmation (until maybe recently) between the expectation and performance. So those high expectations spilled over into very satisfied and loyal customers. Expectations are exaggerated and specific.

What does this mean for organizations? Maybe the whole concept of “surprising and delighting” your customers – which seems to be like kudzu popping up in nearly every industry – is actually the wrong way to go. Perhaps the reason why that particular smartphone manufacturer seems to be so paradigm breaking is because they broke that whole “underpromise and overdeliver” mantra.

The Adventure Begins…

Who I Am and Motivation for Blog

As part of my enrollment in Understanding Customer Experience open networked course provided by Karlstad Business School and the Service Research Center, I’m kicking off this blog. 

Let’s start with my motivation for taking this course… I’m a seasoned strategic marketing and communications professional with over a decade of practical, real-world experience in many different aspects of the marketing discipline. But that doesn’t mean I think I know enough to stay stagnant. The landscape in business and how to connect with customers shifts so quickly that what was best practice a few years ago won’t cut it today. Continuous improvement of my skill set and knowledge base is the only way for me to feel that I’m bringing value to my role in the organization throughout the years.

My social media skills aren’t what the kids would say is on fleek. I Link In, I Facebook, I Instagram, I even get a little crazy with Pinterest every once in awhile – both personally and during my professional career for organizations. But Twitter was a beast that consumed me for my past few organizations and I really put it on the backburner personally a few years ago. As I’m no longer the Twitter Master for the organization I work for, I’m excited to see how Twitter is being used now for business. After all, three years is a long time in the social media world.

I’m taking the Understanding Customer Experience module but I’m interested in many different aspect of the marketing mix: strategic content management, website advances, customer journeys, etc. Basically if it’s an area in business or marketing, I’d like to learn more about it. Specifically for this course, I’m expecting to gain more insight in how customers interact with organizations  and how to better influence customers through a variety of channels.

Finally, my academic background – if I haven’t already established this, I love to learn. I earned a degree in and worked in broadcasting. When I decided that I wanted a job with somewhat normal hours, I went back to school when I switched careers. I earned an Associates in Business, a bachelor of science in marketing, an MBA, and a master’s level certification in trade show marketing. As the phrase goes – chance favors a prepared mind – and I want to make sure my mind is ready for any opportunity that comes my way.

Welcome to Adventures in Marketing and looking forward to having you along with me for the ride.