I was at a Michelin Star Restaurant in Manhattan yesterday with my family. We wanted to go to this place since one year, something or the other prevented us from making it happen. Lots of expectations were built up. For me, I just found the food mediocre. My expectations were not met. It is not the first time this has happened. I've gone to places with great expectation, simply to be let down.
Big Promises - Unmet Expectations
Sometimes, Big promises can lead to mediocre, if not poor experiences. Big promises by who? The restaurant did not make that promise to me explicitly, but it was my mind that made the promise to myself.
This Expectation was a culmination of it's 'rating' by a respected body (Michelin, in this case), my friends, peer, online reviews etc. built up that expectation. This expectation changes the way we experience a product and/or service.
So, Big expected promises can sometimes fall short leading to experiences that are not up to mark, even if in our own minds. If the company does not live up to that expectation we tend not to trust that Company quickly and broken trusts are hard to mend.
Companies will therefore be afraid of laying out grandiose expectation and promises. It is obvious - if we make these promises, we are afraid of owning them and then afraid of the 'what-if we fail in delivering'? When we create our own Big Goals in life, we sometimes keep them to ourselves afraid that if we fail, we don't want our loved ones to perceive us as a failure.
Expect Better - Experience Better
On the flip side, We have better experiences when we expect to have better experiences.
An expensive wine tastes better because we paid a lot for it. That's just how our mind works. Classic Coke just tasted better because we wanted it to taste better.
So, it would be unwise for companies to hold back from laying out high levels of standards and expectations. The expectations don't have to be pretentious. You don't need to make huge statements and buffer them with fine print. Experiences are just those small things - one step at a time. How you are greeted and treated by your salesperson, by every employee of a company, the way a customer service representative answers the phone, or even the look and feel of an email you receive from the company.
Finally, customer service is not a 'milestone', it is an ongoing experience. Once you get started on a relationship and journey with your client it must get better with every encounter. Even if it does not get better, at the very least it must not deteriorate. Customer experience must continue to delight and sometimes even surprise. Only then you will have your client do the 'selling' for you by using social media to spread the word for you and build a level of expectation for your next prospect.
Easier said than done, this is the hardest act to follow for a company, but worth every penny and drop of sweat. Effort well worth spending on.