I wrote a blog post at TheSocialCustomer.com trying to define what a Social Business is. I am quite certain I am far from done with the definition, but there is one part in the post that I want to expand a little bit more: customers’ expectations.
I wrote that for a Social Business (actually, it really means any business with aspirations to leverage social channels) you have to over-deliver to customer expectations. I did not say you have to meet them, I did say you have to exceed them. Some of my peers in the #SCRM Accidental Community were not too thrilled with the idea (apparently, not sufficiently upset to comment on the blog post either) of having to exceed expectations, telling me that meeting them should be sufficient as long as it is done in a consistent basis.
I disagree, and here are the three reasons I disagree:
1) Competition – if you only meet your customers’ expectations, then your competitors will find out what they want and take them. It’s very simple, people’s loyalty (in most cases just rational with few exceptions — see next point) are for purchase. What’s that? You want an extra 10 days to pay your credit card bill and the rigid bills at the your bank won’t allow it? Well, guess what I got for you — an extra 15-days to pay your credit card every month! Poof, customer lost — Loyalty can be bought.
2) Loyalty – I wrote before how loyalty becomes an emotional thing over time when you over-delivered to your customers. The consistent over-delivery is what creates a bond with the experience that makes customers move from rational to emotional loyalty. We are more willing to forgive a bad experience from Beloved Brands than from any other brand. If the Ritz Carlton screws up (yes, it happens) and they say they will make it up to you, you better believe it till blow your expectations of “making it up to you” out of the water. If AT&T says they will make it up to you — well, you get the picture. Which brand generates emotional loyalty in every interaction? Beloved Brands — the ones that are out to exceed customers’ expectations.
3) Long-term Strategy – Interesting thing about Customer Service and Experiences, they are not a destination; it is something you will continue to do until the day you close your business. Planning for meeting your customers’ expectations, as opposed to exceeding them, is like planning to make it to the end of the month with your paycheck — you can get what you want done in the immediate term, but you cannot prepare for the future or properly accommodate unexpected occurrences. If something happens that requires you to go beyond your current setup you won’t have the bandwidth or the capacity as your systems and solutions are only set to meet present needs. Sounds like it would never happen? Think again. When JetBlue was faced with apologizing for keeping people in a locked airplane in the tarmac for some ungodly number of hours (was it eight? 12?) a couple of years ago, they could’ve just said we are sorry, here is a voucher — as most other airlines would’ve done. Instead, they changed their systems and procedures to make sure it never happened again. Customers, accustomed to what the airline industry had to offer, never expected that. As a result, over 90% of them intended to continue flying with JetBlue. Trust me, JetBlue did not just want to meet expectations – they wanted to blow them our of the water.
Do you want your brand to become a Beloved Brand? To have emotional loyal customer? To have your service commitment work as your marketing campaign? Your plans should be to exceed your customers’ expectations then.
Am I wrong? What says you?