Managing Expectations

Think about all the times you were annoyed by a business over the last few weeks, was it because you received bad service, or was it because your expectations weren’t met? I’ll bet that at least half the time, it was more about your expectations.

I am hugely passionate about customer experience! Ask me to talk about it and I’ll go on for hours because I love it so much! Things go wrong all the time in business, but when it comes down to something as simple as meeting expectations I get really annoyed. This is the one area we have the most control over, but last week my expectations were dashed repeatedly.

It started with the networking event I went to where the guest speaker rambled on and on and left no time for anyone to talk about their businesses. Then there was a different networking event that was dominated by talk of fuel shortages and the energy crisis – again no time to talk about our businesses – incidentally these were both on the same day! Both were great meetings, but not what I was expecting from networking events.

Following that, there was a workshop entitled “How to get started selling on Amazon.” She talked about boosting sales and getting reviews, but never once actually mentioned how to get started on amazon. That one was the worst for me, because when I mentioned it in their feedback they actually wrote back to me to tell me that, despite being called “getting started on…”, people of all skill levels were on the call so they have to accommodate that!

And finally, there was the burger… need I say more!

Every one of these experiences could have attracted a negative review. But, did they all deserve it? The quick answer is yes, I think they did.

So, why does this happen?

In the case of the “Selling on Amazon” workshop, they openly admitted that people attend the class with all levels of experience. But why would they worry about that? A well marketed workshop should stay true to itself and deliver what it promises, shouldn’t it? If you are an expert in dog behaviour, and you attend a beginners class, you wouldn’t expect the tutor to make the class harder to suit you.

This often happens as a result of doing the marketing before creating the end product. This is quite common for workshops and classes when they are scheduled and marketed at the concept stage. The actual specifics of the class are devised later, often by someone else. This means the marketing will be vague as they don’t know who to attract, and the class may not end up being exactly what was planned.

If you create the structure and specifics of the class, or meeting, before you begin marketing, you’ll be able to clearly articulate the conclusion of the class, and who it’s for. Doing it this way will lead to a better match of attendees, and therefore a more satisfied audience.

Listen to the customers

Of course, some of these businesses will never know whether they are meeting their customers expectations or not, mostly because they never ask. And when they do, they don’t use this valuable feedback to improve their service, instead, they become defensive – as in the case of the Amazon workshop. Companies that don’t receive their reviews objectively will always blame their customers when things go wrong. Look through the responses customers get on JustEat if you want to see good examples of this!

How do we fix it?

First, you have to know if there is a problem. According to GlobalWebIndex, 47% of us leave one review a month. Most of those will be either 1 or 5 star reviews, so you can’t rely on those for an accurate picture of how you are doing. For the best feedback, go out and ask your customers! But don’t just ask them, be open minded, and listen to what they say.

Then, if there is a problem, there are three options. You can either change the end product so it matches the marketing, change the marketing to match the product, or both!

In the case of the burger, the marketing clearly oversold the final product. Of course, you’ll want to show off your products in the best possible light, but tread carefully. If it’s not possible for your customers to get the quality shown in the pictured product, then you risk disappointing your customers.


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