It’s 6:45 a.m. on a brisk February morning. You just got out of the pool. And it feels like you jumped through a glass window. Cold.
You shuffle as fast as you can to the locker room. It’s time for a long, hot shower. You go to turn the shower knob and you wait.
Cold. You wait a few more seconds. Still cold.
What’s worse - setting the wrong expectation or not setting one at all?
Think. You’ve been promised something before and not received it. You’ve been let down.
Whether someone was late to a meeting, a company failed to issue you a refund, or your landlord raised your rent - you know what it’s like to have your expectations shattered.
I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.
Expectations. These are the fuzzy feelings you have about things. If she will say yes to go on a date with you. If you will or won’t get the job. If a company is hiding something from you.
Expectations are everything when communicating with customers. Customers always have an expectation in mind - because customers are people. And businesses get choose how to deal with these expectations.
Set the right expectations and you might have a customer for life. Fail to meet the expectations you set and you’ll lose a customer fast.
The beautiful business model of selling software. No physical product. A subscription-based service. Cancel at any time. Thousands of startups tinker with this business model every day.
A friend of mine explained his startup doesn’t list prices on their website. The company refuses to share a pricing page. A prospective buyer must request a quote.
The problem is the pricing plans are pre-determined. The company could easily choose to share what payment plan a prospect would fall into, but makes the effort to hide it. The young business is afraid competitors will use the pricing information against them.
My friend is part of the sales team. Guess the number one question she receives from prospective buyers? You guessed right - what’s the price?
There is nothing to gain by not sharing price. Because the customer already has an expectation. This person might be expecting double the price of the product or expect it to be dirt cheap.
If price is a main concern, it’s likely the prospect is not a perfect fit for the product anyway. But by not sharing it, the business is refusing to face that expectation. This is a terrible first impression for a potential customer.
Without an expectation set on price, this young business is failing to understand its customers. Remember, customers are people. And people have expectations.
Derek Sivers loves to experiment. The founder of CD Baby, Sivers shares lots of his experiments in his book Anything You Want. His casual approach after someone submits an order and his customer service philosophy are celebrated.
Because Derek understands the expectations of
customers people. He’s honest. He sees things from the other person’s point of view. And that helped him build a multi-million dollar business.
In his book, Derek recalls how customers would call and ask, “What time is it there? Do I still have time to get it sent today?” CD Baby would ship FedEx each day at 5 p.m.
Customers wanted to know when they could expect their order to be delivered. And what did Derek do? He set the expectation.
So I added two little lines of programming code that counted how many hours and minutes remained until 5 p.m. and then showed the result by the shipping options. “You have 5 hours, 18 minutes until our next FedEx shipment.”
Derek Sivers, Anything You Want
Derek shares that
customers people loved this. It’s easy to see why. CD Baby set an expectation and met that expectation.
When businesses set expectations and met those expectations,
customers people are happy.
The shower never got hot that day. People complained to the front desk at the pool. One threatened to never come to the pool again.
The next day a funny thing happened. When you walked into the building, the front desk had a sign that read, “No Hot Water Today. But we do have Hot Chocolate!”
That simple expectation made a world of difference. It’s amazing how much easier a cold shower is when you know to expect it.
When your customers are expecting a hot shower, don’t give them a cold one.