When I started working at my Church in 2003 I quickly learnt that the largest part of my work, both in the office and on Sundays (game day), was one of managing expectations.
Thus when I repeatedly failed in delivering expectations, I learnt the further lesson that expectation is closely linked with communication – or the lack thereof.
Yesterday, out of the blue, I received the package pictured here. When I opened it was I both surprised and excited by the gift of Thorntons chocolates sent to me by Optix Solutions. I was surpised because, of course, I wasn’t expecting it – it hadn’t been communicated to me. So therefore when I received the chocolates, my expectations (which were nil) were delightfully over-delivered on.
Enter the state of many failing businesses and we find the opposite scenario. My expectations as a customer or client are high, as I have been communicated to with grand promises of what they can do and what they’ll do. Then comes the execution – the delivery of said promise – and my expectations are frightfully unmet by lacklustre performance.
In fact, it isn’t just failing businesses that do this. I find it funny how many companies make a song and dance about having satisfied customers. But satisfaction just comes from doing what you said you’d do – not exactly the world’s highest goal is it?
I’m more interested in customer surprise – the game of exceeding expectations. There’s one really easy way to do this: under promise and over deliver. Don’t promise your clients everything in the world. In fact, promise them only half of what you intend to do – so that when you do deliver on the other half, they are surprised as they didn’t expect it. That sure leaves them with a great experience.
What I don’t advise doing is over promising and under delivering – unless you intend to then massively over deliver on your under delivery. But that’s another strategy altogether
One final footnote: take advantage of it when people underestimate you – don’t argue with them or try to get them to correctly estimate you – instead use their under estimation to increase your stature in their sight when your produce something they never even estimated you could do.