It's the first day of September, and I had to bundle up to walk to the gym this morning. Yesterday I thought about turning on the furnace.
I wasn't too thrilled about that, and neither is anyone else around here. Because this is the summer that never seemed to happen in my neighborhood. If you live in a northern climate, you had weird weather this year. Whether too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry, it was way outside our allowable variances. And none of us seem to be able to just deal with it and move on. [I realize my complaints are trivial by comparison with the problems many areas have had. I'm still grumpy, ok? Even if our backyard isn't on fire.]
We feel ripped off. We had expectations. We scaled them back, And even our scaled back expectations were disappointed.
Sadly, there is no Weather Company to complain to, and we can't switch providers to FedEx Weather or Mozilla Open Source Weather. But we'd like to. We want the undo button to restore the last couple of deleted weeks of summer. We want a mulligan.
Expectations and customer experience
Very often when I am doing research into customer experience, people will have a story about how their expectations were disappointed. That in itself might not come as a big surprise to you. I bet you've got a few stories of your own.
What is incredible is how long people carry these negative feelings. They carry them for years. Especially if they didn't get some closure on the situation, like an apology or some redress for their disappointment. Not only that, but the damage might seem almost trivial or irrational to another person.
The whole point of branding is to create a set of expectations. It's the brand promise, right?
In service delivery, often the expectations were never made explicit, they were implied by the nature of the interaction. Expectations like: being treated with respect. Not getting ripped off. Not being lied to.
Satisfaction research has shown clearly that it is delivery against expectations that largely determines whether your customers are unhappy, just okay, or advocates for your organization.
The metric that counts is customer expectations, and they're formed not just by your organization, but by every organization. Unless you happen to be the leader in your category, in which case you have only yourselves to blame for rising expectations. [That's a good thing, by the way.]
The bottom line
Customers have expectations. When you disappoint those expectations, you've delivered unsatisfactory service, regardless of how your internal metrics look.
Disappointed people carry the negative thoughts around for a long time, no matter how trivial or irrational the situation may look like from the company side of things. So it's a good idea to try to understand what the expectations are, and either meet them, try to modify them, or suck it up when you've blown it. Because nobody just forgets about it.
A change to our publishing schedule
Expectations segues nicely into something else I thought I should mention.
My standard for this blog has been to publish Tuesday and Thursday, with a "This just in" Friday when there was something cool to tell you about.
I haven't been doing a great job of delivering on this lately. But you're probably inundated with information [as I am], and would prefer quality to quantity, if you can't have both. So I'm going to aim for one post a week. [A brilliant, glittering, insightful thing with tremendous value added that will trigger equally glittering and insightful comments from you, our brilliant, beautiful and valued subscribers].
Your feedback, as always, is greatly appreciated. Thank you. We now resume our regular programming.