Subj: Inter Office Mail – Experience – Expectation = Satisfaction
Editor’s Note: Our own Jim McCarthy shared some thoughts about Customer Commitment with the Goldstar team, and, well, we thought you might get something out of it, too.
From: Jim McCarthy firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Fri 5/10/2019 2:18 PM
There’s an easy way to understand how positively customers are likely to feel about us (or any business). It goes like this:
What I actually experienced (minus) What I thought I was going to experience (equals) How positively I think of what happened and of your company.
We also say this as: My experience – my expectations equals my satisfaction.
Let’s illustrate. If a person is in a hurry and needs to drop by the grocery store and pick up some stuff for dinner, they have some expectations which come from their previous experience with that grocery store and a lot of other grocery stores as well. They expect that, a) there will be a variety of groceries that they can use to make dinner, b) that those groceries will be good enough to eat, c) that they will cost about what they expect them to cost, d) that it won’t take more than a few minutes to get in and out of the store, e) they’ll be treated at least politely by the people who work there.
The person doesn’t have to think about these expectations. They just pop up as soon as she contemplates going into the store, and she only becomes fully aware of those expectations when they’re not met.
So, if they don’t have any vegetables, that’s weird. It fails to meet expectation a. If the food is old and moldy, that’s not meeting expectation b. If the ingredients for a basic chicken dinner cost $1000, that’s not meeting expectation c. You get the point.
Our Customer Commitment is a way of establishing a clear understanding for us of what the baseline expectations of customers are and trying to make sure that we always, always, always deliver them. This is not humanly possible, but despite the fact that perfection is unattainable, it’s very important to set up your work and your processes for the goal of perfection when it comes to the core expectations of the customer.
As Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, says: Do Your Job.
Here’s where it gets interesting though. Your actual experience can exceed your expectations, too. The groceries can be exceptionally fresh, or maybe there’s a great deal on rotisserie chicken, or perhaps a staff member sees you struggling with your basket and brings you a cart. These are more than just meeting your expectations. They’re exceeding them. It takes creativity and heart to do this, and it also has to be built into the processes and systems that we work with and through every day. In fact, “Doing Your Job” in a great organization means always meeting and often exceeding expectations.
Always meeting and often exceeding.
Now let’s talk about the other fascinating thing here, which is Expectations. First, the customers’ expectations are NOT UP TO US TO DECIDE. To be good at a customer-based business (which is pretty much all business), you have to get comfortable with the idea that it’s not your job to tell people what they think and what they want. In the end, it’s up to them. This is the marketplace and when you can ride it, it’s the most powerful thing in business. When you fight it, you’re going to lose. For years, American car companies fought the marketplace, telling people that they didn’t want smaller, more fuel efficient, more reliable cars, but that they wanted elegant, high-powered land barges, possibly with tail fins. They fought the market, and, the market won! After nearly dying, Detroit finally got the message sometime during the ’80s and started building pretty good cars again.
This is also why you should never overpromise or lie to a customer. If they expect to hear from you Tuesday and you get back to them Wednesday, you have fallen below their expectations. On the other hand, if you promise to get back to them Thursday and get back to them on the same Wednesday as in the other scenario, you’ve EXCEEDED their expectations! Managing expectations honestly is super important.
Expectations also change! When they do, again, it’s not up to us to decide that people are wrong. For example, in 2002, ANY ticket discount you could buy online was exciting and worth checking out. The customer expectation at the time was that they had to pay full price for tickets, unless maybe they stood in a long line the day of the show and got lucky. That changed. The expectations changed. In our very effective consumer market, in general, consumer expectations go up. 100 years ago, ANYBODY who could deliver a product that worked — soap or cereal or a light bulb — was meeting customer expectations because as an economy, that was about as good as we could do. But oh, boy, we’re good at this now. People can and do have things delivered to them (literally and figuratively) better, cheaper and faster than ever. This will not stop anytime soon.
I think this point is illustrated brilliantly by Grover and very demanding customer. It’s not enough to get EXACTLY what he asked for, all delivered with a friendly (if blue and extremely goofy) face. Watch the video and you’ll see Grover get frustrated with the fact that this consumer’s expectations are different, and higher, than Grover thought.
But here’s the good news. Most companies don’t focus on this. They don’t focus on the fact that it’s relatively simple to understand how to think about customer satisfaction, but it’s hard to get committed and stay committed. I’m not saying they don’t care, but caring and committing are two different things.
So remember the formula: Customer Experience – Customer Expectation = Customer Satisfaction
As you think about the Customer Commitment, remember what it means and what it’s for. The payoff is Customer Satisfaction, repeat business, good word of mouth and a whole lot of other goodness.