Raising expectations (and then dashing them) via Seth Godin

I lose count how many sensible things Seth Godin says every month. Here is another, which makes load of customer and business sense. Ponder it next time you are involved in signing off on a new round of advertising that you know is promising a customer experience you have little chance of keeping. Several years ago in a previous life, I worked with the CEO of a large Australian company that wanted to communicate to their customers that their service solution was "one touch". The only problem was, it was actually ten touches. Imagine his customers disappointment when they bought the idea of "one touch" only to find out it was actually ten times more diffcult.

In a Service Design world, we believe Branding is the promise you make; Customer Experience is the promise you keep. By understanding what customers really value, you can help organisations keep their customer promises and maximise financial profitability....and at the end of the day, that is what we should all be about when developing world class Service Designed experiences.

Have you noticed how upbeat the ads for airlines and banks are?

Judging from the billboards and the newspaper ads, you might be led to believe that Delta is actually a better airline, one that cares. Or that your bank has flexible people eager to bend the rules to help you succeed.

At one level, this is good advertising, because it tells a story that resonates. We want Delta to be the airline it says it is, and so we give them a try.

The problem is this: ads like this actually decrease user satisfaction. If the ad leads to expect one thing and we don't get it, we're more disappointed than if we had gone in with no real expectations at all. Why this matters: if word of mouth is the real advertising, then what you've done is use old-school ad techniques to actually undercut any chance you have to generate new-school results.

So much better to invest that same money in delighting and embracing the customers you already have.

Posted on January 14, 2011 and filed under Service Design.