If you are in any type of business, you are in the business of making promises. The promises are the claims that you make to your customer. You make claims about your product’s or service’s benefits for your customer through your advertisements and your sales presentation. Every claim you make in these, or any other marketing materials you may have, represent a promise to the customer.
The result of these promises is the expectation that your customers have for your product or service. The level of expectations that your promises create represents the standard the customer will hold your organization to. If you meet the expectations that you set, then the customer will leave your business satisfied. If you exceed the expectations that the customer has, your customer will leave enthusiastic about your company. Of course, if you fail to reach the expectations that you have created then your customer will leave disappointed. Naturally, how your customer leaves your company will impact whether or not they return, and how likely they are to spread the word to others about your business.
Let me share an example. This past summer my wife and I were on vacation in southern Turkey on the Mediterranean. We were staying in the resort city of Ola Deniz. It was a beautiful location with a wonderful beach, and truly a great vacation spot. The city of Ola Deniz is filled with tour operators selling day trips around the area. They all shared wonderful stories of the tours. My wife and I settled on two specific tours that we wanted to take and negotiated a good price.
We had enjoyable days on both trips, but left a little disappointed each time. The problem wasn’t the trip itself, but rather how the tour didn’t match the promises with the actual experience.
The first trip was a trip by bus and then river boat to another town where we would experience a mud bath and a visit to turtle beach. The salesperson went in detail through each step of the trip, and in general gave a pretty accurate level of expectation for what we experienced. Unfortunately she chose to leave out one stop – a stop a jewelry shop. Naturally the jewelry shop was part of the tour because they hoped that the tourists would spend money and that the tour company would receive a commission from the jewelry shop for brining by the customers. For most this was simply an extra thirty minute stop and left many customers with a bad taste of the experience.
The second trip was a boat trip on the Mediterranean. The salesperson explained that this boat trip would involve stops at five different bays as well as a stop at the famous butterfly valley. There was even more dissatisfaction for the customers on this trip. First of all, the five bays turned out to be very close to each other. In fact a number of them could be seen from each other. When you set out from one bay and are ready and excited to see more of the sea but then end up only travelling a ¼ mile to a bay you could clearly see already, you are naturally left a little disappointed.
The disappointment got worse with the stop at the famous butterfly valley. One couple on our boat took the whole tour because they wanted to go to this one stop. When we got there, we found out that we only had a 40 minute stop, but that it would take more than one hour to walk to the end of the valley and back. Everyone was disappointed that we would not even have time to see the cliffs and valley that made butterfly valley famous. Further, we found out at butterflies only live at butterfly valley for about one month a year; naturally not the month we were there. Nearly everyone we talked to left the trip disappointed.
Of course when reflecting on each experience, we got great value for what we paid. All that needed to have happened was for the expectation level to be set more realistically. My wife and I paid a total of $25 dollars each. That got us two trips, lunch each day and a chance to see some wonderful sites. If only the expectations had been set to match what we experienced we would have left extremely satisfied.
If the stop at the gold shop had been included in the details of the first trip no one would have complained. The salesperson took so much time going through each and every stop on the trip that neglecting the jewelry shop became even more obvious. Setting the expectations correctly by explaining that there would be one stop at the jewelry store would have set the proper expectations. We would have left the trip very happy.
If the second trip had properly advertised what we would experience during the stop at butterfly valley, and set better expectations about the distance between the five bays, the trip would have been wonderful. It was a relaxing day at sea, a chance to see wonderful sites, and to swim in some great locations. Again the problem was that the expectations didn’t match reality.
What are the expectations that you are creating for your product or service? Are you meeting those expectations? Are you exceeding them? If you are not meeting (or preferably exceeding) those expectations, then you need to get to work. Perhaps you need to lower false expectations that you are creating in your marketing that you simply don’t need to make the sale. Maybe you need to increase the benefits you actually give your customers and ensure that every expectation you are creating is actually achieved. A simple way to do that is to under promise and over deliver.
The ability to under promise and over deliver is a powerful way to create excited customers. You need to manage your marketing efforts to provide realistic promises to your customers. Make sure that every expectation you set is something you can easily achieve. Once you’ve managed the expectations you are creating, go out and surpass them. Go and do more for your customers than you promise.
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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