The expectations economy is here, and it’s changing the way you do business. Our customers have higher expectations than ever before, and they will let us know if we don’t meet them. This can be frustrating—and expensive—but there are ways to overcome it.
What is the expectation economy?
Before we dive into the tips for success in the expectation economy, let’s first better understand it. It’s in short the economy with growing expectations from customers. There are three pillars of the expectation economy:
- The need for better quality and more quantity
- The need for making a positive impact due to the need of quilt-free consumption
- The need for personal expression
The challenge is to be able to still fulfil the needs of customers because of their high expectations. Big organisations with sufficient resources even have a hard time doing so. Let alone small to medium-sized enterprises. The needs of customers stayed the same, but the expectations have risen to new standards and won’t stop. So let’s cover the tips to better deal with the expectation economy.
Tip 1. Be consistent
Consistency is key to building trust in your brand and its products or services. Which is a sustainable way to deal with the expectation economy. It’s important that you establish a baseline of quality and service that you deliver time after time, day after day, month after month—and year after year.
Consistency requires that you’re having your finger on the pulse of what customers want and when they want it (or don’t). This means getting ahead of trends—not just following them—so that when something becomes popular with consumers, you’re already there with an offer designed to capitalise on the trend’s momentum while keeping pace with changing consumer tastes and expectations. If you want to learn more about successfully getting ahead of trends, I recommend you to read the book called Trend-Driven Innovation.
You should also strive for consistency in your experiences: from how customers are greeted upon arrival at an establishment or how they interact with representatives over the phone; from one interaction online to another; from one visit to another digital location. This is all about the customer journey. The book called The Customer Experience can help you with setting up a better and more consistent customer journey. And no, the fact that I’m giving two book recommendations in a row is not because I’m an affiliate partner ;-).
Tip 2. Be sensitive to the value of your services
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all services have equal value. After all, if you’re willing to do a job for someone else, then it must be worth something—right?
But in today’s expectation economy, this isn’t true. Some services have high value and others have low value. And if you don’t know which type your service falls into (or what makes it valuable), then you’re likely going to end up overcharging or underselling yourself.
Here are some examples:
Services with high value include those where people feel like they’re getting something special—like an elaborate wedding cake made just for them by their beloved baker friend who owns her own bakery business (and has been baking cakes since she was young).
Services with low value include things that are mass-produced and available everywhere (like plastic shopping bags), or things that don’t require any skill whatsoever—for instance, making coffee at Starbucks for customers who order them every day.
Looking at those examples, it’s essential to create a special experience around your product of service. You could for example do this by adding scarcity to it, which is one of the key principles of Cialdini. To find out more about all 6 principles of Cialdini, I’d recommend you to read Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Tip 3. Be proactive
Anticipate your customers’ needs. If you’re selling a product, offering a service, or selling yourself as an expert in your industry- do everything you can to anticipate the needs of your customers. Don’t wait for them to ask for what they want; give it to them before they know they need it!
Also, anticipate the needs of partners and suppliers. It can be easy to get caught up in working with those who carry similar goals and values as yours, but don’t forget about businesses operating on different levels entirely! This could mean learning more about how other companies operate their supply chains so that when an opportunity arises where there is mutual benefit between two companies with different viewpoints, you’ll have already done some research beforehand so that when asked whether such an arrangement would be possible (or if there would even be any interest), you’ll have an informed answer ready before anyone else does!
Tip 4. Create an experience
As a business, you want to create an experience that is memorable. You can use your creativity to make the experience memorable. To do this, you’ll want to use all five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.
By creating a memorable experience for your customers (and potential customers), you will build loyalty among them. A great way of doing this is by offering discounts or other incentives on a regular basis so they feel like they’re getting something special from you on a regular basis—you’ll be surprised how far this goes towards building positive word of mouth!
Tip 5. Offer comprehensive benefits
The more comprehensive a benefit is, the more value it has to your customers. A single benefit may only be valuable to certain segments of your audience; but if you can offer multiple benefits that are relevant to all segments, the cost of each individual product will be less important because customers can receive more value from each transaction.
Use language that clearly communicates what’s included in the package, who should sign up and how they can access those benefits. Let them know how easy it is for them to use these services. So they don’t experience any barriers when trying out new ways of doing business with you.
Tip 6. Use personalisation and offer a personal touch
Personalisation is what makes a good service stand out, it’s what makes a good service unforgettable, and it’s what makes a good service unique. Personalisation is also special because it can be used to make all customers feel like they belong—when you add personalisation touches to your business practices and products, anyone can feel special.
Successfully dealing with the expectation economy also means offering a personal touch, not just information and a transaction. In fact, when it comes to building relationships with customers that are meaningful and profitable, a personal connection is key. But what does it mean to be personally engaged with your customers?
Personalisation isn’t just about giving customers what they want; it’s also about giving them what they need—and even more importantly, providing them with an experience that will exceed their expectations in ways they never imagined possible.
Moral of the story: be prepared to underdeliver
By any measure, consumers have increasingly high expectations for the quality of your products and services. In fact, you may have already heard that consumers will pay more for higher-quality goods and services. That is true for many products—but not all. And even if it does hold true for yours, customers still won’t pay as much as they think they should be paying based on their own personal values (which are influenced by market perception).
In this article, we’ve covered how to successfully deal with the expectation economy. We’ve seen that consumers have higher expectations than ever before, so you need to be prepared to underdeliver on them. By integrating the 6 tips for success in the expectation economy, you’ll make your business ‘expectation economy’-proof.