Why do you think a business can have recurring customers? It’s because they can manage customer expectations really well. The importance of customer expectations, when done correctly, is what prolongs a customer lifetime value and makes a loyal consumer of your brand.
Some of the people directly involved in setting expectations of a product or service are:
- Marketing and Branding Team.
- Media/PR Team. (Advertisement Campaigns)
- Product Divisions.
- Quality Assurance Team.
What are Customer Expectations?
Customer expectations incorporate and are based on each and everything a customer expects from an Organization. That includes every aspect of a product and service.
These expectations are created based on personal experience, what they have learned, and their current knowledge.
(Factors can include your Advertising, Media, and Reputation)
Upon the completion of the sales or purchase made, the process doesn’t stop there. You need to measure the experience of the customer consuming your product or services. You can do this through the feedback form, email, and even a simple question posed for the customer’s last visit experience when buying or purchasing.
Usually, the departments that looks into the post-purchase stage are:
- Data Analytics Department.
- Quality Assurance Team.
- Customer and Support Service.
Let’s not forget even customer service plays an important role because usually, consumers call customer service for 3 main reasons.
- First Reason: To Complain.
- Second Reason: To Ask Questions.
- Third Reason: To Ask More About A Product.
Depending on the questions, if customer service representatives are not able to answer any of the questions above well, then that is a key opportunity missed to improve a customer experience or to even convert into a buying customer.
Types of Customer Expectations
Let’s split this topic into 3 areas and dive deep into each of them.
- Customer/Leads Perceiving the Product
- Purchasing Expectations from Consumers <- How do customers know your brand and product? Through advertisement? How do you advertise?
- Post-Purchase Experience
Let’s uncover today’s business strategies, customer expectations examples, and how small and big businesses handle their customer expectations.
Customer/Leads Perceiving the Product
This expectation makes it way back before a potential customer engages with your brand. Many said this is the golden moment where it turns positive or sour in the eyes of new and recurring customers. Either the person likes it and buys it or not enough to make a decision.
We recommend you to think from the buyer’s perspective first and not your organization or any of your distributor’s perspectives. The best way to gain true and accurate insights is to go on-ground and to do a consumer survey and their thoughts on the product, brand, and room for improvement. (Remember to incentivize them though)
This first engagement can be influenced in the form of advertisements through indoor marketing and outdoor marketing or even organic through word-of-mouth referrals.
For example, you can be walking down the supermarket and see a giant banner about a promotion for the premium apple in aisle 2. Because of the design of the banner, the words used, the placement of the banner, and the size of the banner, I had perceived this as a premium brand without already realizing it sub-consciously.
It’s similar to the phrase, “First Impression Matters”. This impression you have gained from your consumers makes a part of the decision before buying. About 20% of it.
Purchasing Service Experience
This is the moment where service plays a vital role in converting your prospects into customers.
If it’s one thing that I learned during my tenure in the service sector, I realized that approach is what attracts or brings the yuck factor into making the purchasing decision.
Don’t oversell a product, a service, or an Organization. Never do that. Raising customer expectations more than the product offers to attract future problems. Read more below on “Hyping Expectations on a Product or Service”.
Steve Jobs, a brilliant marketer mentioned a very relevant quote that is worth pondering upon.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology – not the other way around.”Steve Jobs
This is advice worth considering before making a business decision especially when it directly impacts your customer experience.
Great marketers never stopped after the Purchasing Experience and you shouldn’t either. Because this serves as an opportunity to increase customer retention and customer lifetime value. Not only that, you’ll be building a reputable brand by improving your customer experience because you show that YOU CARE.
Try sending feedback forms with an incentive (discounts, exclusive offers, vouchers, gift cards) for completing them after a customer made their purchase. Besides showing your appreciation to your customers, as equally important, this can help you gauge the good and the bad when it comes to perceiving, buying, and using your product and services.
Factors Influencing Customer Expectations
It is in fact correct to mention these factors play a role in influencing customer expectations. Consider these factors and combine them with how you decide to meet your customer expectations below. This helps you create a killer strategy!
- Advertising and Marketing Campaign. (Branding)
- Product Packaging.
- Price Game.
- The reputation of the Business. (Word-of-mouth Referrals)
- Competitors and Industry’s Standard. (Pre-Existing Knowledge)
How Do You Meet Customer Expectations?
No one strategy is best for all businesses. Each of them should determine what makes the most sense given its position in the industry and its objectives, opportunities, and resources.
To meet or to exceed expectations? Businesses mainly have 3 options when it comes to meeting customer expectations.
- Lowering Customer Expectations.
- Hyping Expectations on a Product or Service.
- Managing them On-Par
Each of them has its pros and cons. Sales, consumer experience, reviews, perception, reputation are all at stake when choosing one of the 3.
Now, choose within this 3 option and combine them with the factors influencing customer expectations above.
Lowering Customer Expectations
Lowering expectations can be tricky. Now you see, if you were to choose to lower customer expectations, then chances are, you’ll probably get lesser sales compared to when you hype expectations.
However, you’ll gain many more recurring customers. Because you have exceeded expectations of the value perceived by the consumer before and after using the product or service. Since consumers feel that it was a value buy and worth every penny because expectations were lower, to begin with.
Hyping Expectations on a Product or Service
Hyping expectations means bringing up the value of perception to a product and service even before consumers have purchased it. This is often termed as “Branding”, allowing prices and other factors to be higher than the market value.
From the sales department’s perspective, this may be a good sign because it potentially generates a higher volume of sales. But on the flip side, you’ll probably gain bad reviews. Some might even stop buying any product or service that comes from your business because they know they will be disappointed with the end-product and services.
Managing Expectations On-Par
While Lowering and Hyping expectations has its perks, managing expectation on-par will be more “steady” and can be expected to receive reviews from consumers as according to the product itself without any external force to influence perception before the purchase was made.
Views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Growing Apple.
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