Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Meeting Expectations; Thrilling Customers

Too many organizations are forgetting that it's about meeting and exceeding customer expectations. If I go into a K-mart or a Walmart, my expectations are very different than when I go into a Nordstrom. K-mart gets away with things that Nordstrom never could with me, because I expect Nordstrom to be better. Conversely, K-mart better have the cheapest (or nearly cheapest) price for my item, because, again, that's my expectation-- one that K-mart created for me.

That's probably why I was so disappointed when my sandwich at lunch yesterday wasn't cut all the way through.

What? Okay, let me explain: I discovered a wonderful lunch place a few months ago near my office. They make great sandwiches. Fresh meats and cheeses, good bread and seasonings and, perhaps most importantly, always very well made. What I mean is that the sandwich is always neat -- no stuff hanging out; it always has the right amount and proportions of ingredients -- I'm never wondering if they actually put the cheese on, or something like that; and always cut all the way through. The result is that I can eat at my desk while working and not make a mess. Sounds trivial, but it's important to me.

Yesterday, the sandwich wasn't cut all the way through and it annoyed me -- more than it should have frankly. I think it's because I felt let down. I'm over it now. Truth be told I was over it practically as it happened, but it got me to thinking about marketing and meeting expectations. That's all consumers really want; if you are going to set up an expectation through advertising or marketing, then be sure to meet and exceed it. Your customers will be thrilled.

Seth Godin wrote about something similar, but from a different angle. But in the end, his hotel was meeting his expectation. They told him, through marketing, that the fitness center was open 24 hours. Their marketing probably as told him that they were focused on his needs and comfort. So, He decided to trek down to the front desk with the expectation that they would open the fitness center. They did. He was thrilled.