Expectation management isn’t just about you escaping damaging errors, it also represents a fantastic opportunity.
The most successful products, blogs or businesses succeed because they exceed expectations in unexpected ways.
If “normal” is standard for the market and you deliver something so much better than normal, you win the game. Taking Apple as an example, one of the reasons they have done so well is their operating system is so much more reliable than the main operating system that people use – Windows.
Windows, has many issues that people over time accept them as normal. The fact that the “blue screen of death” was so common in earlier Windows versions that it became a running public joke. It demonstrates how much people’s expectations had dropped, to the point where logical errors were considered normal. This wasn’t desirable, but accepted enough that people continued to use the operating system even with the obvious flaws.
So How Can You Apply These?
Expectations are based on what has come before. Because of this it is important you have an awareness of what is accepted practice in your market and how you can do better. Research how people currently solve the problem your business solves, and find a unique way to do it. Sometimes just being simpler than what is currently accepted, even if the outcome is the same, can be enough.
Don’t think that everyone knows what is going to happen next. Managing expectations is about saying what the customer will experience after they buy from you. Pretty much any variable where you provide something and invite people to participate. Review how you describe what customers will receive and ask yourself if you have done a good job explaining what is going to happen next.
When feedback starts coming in from your customers or audience, it probably points to a difference between what you said was going to be delivered, how that was understood, and then what was delivered. This kind of feedback is valuable because it challenges your assumptions and spots your weaknesses. Don’t ignore it, but also do not assume one piece of feedback represents the majority. You can never be sure, so collect enough data before making any changes.
If you are looking for new industries to enter, look for markets where the current businesses, either due to laziness, or a lack of competition, have set standards that can be improved.
Richard Branson is fantastic at doing this. He finds industries where expectations are kept low because all the current options do things the same way. Virgin enters the market with a more exciting option and in a short period of time is a market leader or significant player. Don’t be scared to highlight your strengths by pointing out the competitions weaknesses. This works for politicians all the time.
Your goal regarding expectation management, as an entrepreneur is to identify a need, present an offer and then go to work finding new customers.
It’s important to manage your new offer and deliverability of that offer, otherwise any marketing you do is wasted.
If you do this wrong, it’s like spending money to reach people who want to buy a new motorcycle, when you sell new scooters. This may be considered subtle, but I doubt a person wanting a new motorcycle will be happy when a scooter turns up.
Don’t Over-Manage Expectations
Despite all pressure on managing expectations, it’s important to stay relaxed about the process. Most of you are dealing with the different kind of human beings, so if you are seeking a perfect understanding, you will forever be frustrated.
Needs change and markets evolve. People wake up in the morning wanting something different from the night before. If you try to anticipate all of this you will drive yourself crazy.
All you need to do is know all information and explain enough to keep customers happy or meet whatever goal you have. There is always room for improvement, so know what is “enough” for your own standards.
In other words, manage your own expectations before you begin managing those of others.