Exceeding customers’ expectations?

If I hear “Oh let’s exceed our customers’ expectations” one more time I will scream. If I hear “Oh let’s exceed our customers’ expectations” one more time I will scream.

Usually my response is: ‘Why don’t we just meet their expectations in the first place?’ Too many times the marketing hype (the promise) does not always connect with the sales expectation set up by the sales team, which doesn’t always translate into a service experience we were promised in the first place.


We are often left disappointed, jaded and, if it happens more than once, cynical.


Too many of us have stories of where we have been let down by businesses not fulfilling our expectations. We see broken promises, exaggerated claims, hollow offerings, no real value!


William T. Brooks talks about the promise-expectation-experience chain in his book The New Science of Selling and Persuasion. He says, and I agree, that everyone in the organisation should know what the connection is between promise, expectation and experience. Everyone who sees, talks with or comes in contact with a prospect or customer must be able to understand and execute this in all their actions. This is your competitive edge.


The marketing and sales tools you give sales people, customer service teams, service technicians, and anyone else in contact with a customer must support your integrated promise-expectation-experience chain. Otherwise, it will be seen as insincere and fake.

Brooks also says: “An inconsistent poorly defined marketing, sales and service strategy for the entire organisation results in an organisation fraught with finger pointing, blame, denial, backbiting, slippery revenues and reduced cash flow.”

Regardless of the marketing position you chose to take, it’s important to effectively communicate that position to all the internal teams who work with prospects and customers.

Sales, marketing and service departments must never operate in isolation! However this happens too often.

Sales people setting false expectations

Even if you get your promise-expectation-experience chain right, there are some scenarios that can also damage customer expectations and experiences:

  • Sales people who don’t know how to correctly analyse a customer’s situation and prescribe the right solutions. They give the wrong advice on how to proceed with your company.
  • Sales people who make all sorts of promises to prospects just to get a sale knowing that the business will never deliver but they will still get their commissions.
  • Sales people who can’t say NO and so promise unrealistic prices, or throw in “freebies” that aren’t free at all. Customers think these pricing deals are the norm and when a new sales person comes on board and informs them they were getting something at greatly reduced rates and now need to pay higher prices then of course the customer is ticked off. You can hear it, can’t you? “Why didn’t they tell me what the real price was in the first place?”
  • Some sales people sell deals they know the delivery team will find near impossible to deliver because of too tight timelines, extra staffing or product needed, all to make a sale and get rewarded (often at the expense of someone else).

Some questions for your consideration:

  1. What do your sales rewards systems actually reward?
  2. Is your business made up of competing cultures where each area is vying for leadership?
  3. If you were a customer of your business would you get what you expected and paid for from your marketing literature, your sales team, or your products/services?



Author: Sue Barrett is founder and managing director of BARRETT Pty Ltd, an Australian based sales fitness firm that helps businesses build high performing sales teams and is author of soon-to-be-released book Sell Like a Woman.



For more Sell Like a Woman blogs, click here.




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