The Expectation Effect

high-expectations“Never Forget the Expectation Effect”

Wow, what a great term. I would love to say that I came up with it but I would be just a little short on veracity. This idea came from a recent blog by Josh Kaufman on his site. This is the fourth part of “The 4 most important things I learned in business school”:

Here’s what I learned in operations management: every human interaction is influenced by the expectations each party has going in. If the experience is better than the expectations, the interaction is judged to be pleasant, good, or high-quality. If the experience is worse than the expectations, the interaction is judged to be dissapointing, bad, or poor-quality, even if it’s demonstrably better than other available options. This relationship applies to dealing with everyone: your customers, your boss, or your significant other.

The Expectation Effect explains why people can be dissapointed after having dinner at the most expensive luxury restaurant in the world, why a particular company’s stock tanks 20% after earnings are $0.01 less than anticipated, and why most people think the first Matrix movie is better than parts two and three.

The venerable business adage “under-promise and over-deliver” is a direct statement of how to apply the Expectation Effect – ensure that people are excited enough to move forward but don’t have inflated expectations going in, then do everything you can to amaze them. It’s a difficult balancing act, but it always works.

OK so Josh may not have been talking directly about the cleaning and restoration business but it does apply. Listen to your phone staff when they are talking to a customer. If the customer is asking if a 10-year-old white sofa can be cleaned, your phone person should be explaining that the tech will perform a no obligation thorough inspection before attempting cleaning. This is not the time to brag that your techs are miracle workers.

This is even more important on a restoration job. A 15-year-old carpet will still look like a 15-year-old carpet after a thorough remediation.

Just remember one of your main jobs is to set a level of expectation that you or your techs can meet or beat. Customer satisfaction is the gap between what she expects and what she gets.

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