Long time friends Bill and Bob were sitting in a bar. They’ve known each other since back in college. Bob became a consultant at a small firm, Bill was on his way of becoming COO at the transport company he was working at.
“So, how are things at work?”, Bob asked.
“Well, kind of weird actually”, Bill answered, “We’ve been doing great in operations: 99% we’re on time!”
“Wow, sounds great! So what’s the weird part?”
“Well, the customers won’t stop complaining. It’s as if they expect 100%.”
“Are they wrong to expect 100%?”
“Absolutely, incidents are always possible. If there’s an accident somewhere, we’re under 100%.”
“Then why did you create the expectation?”, Bob asked.
Bill was a bit thrown off. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you knew about you operational limits, and yet your company advertised with slogans like ‘Always your best option’ and ‘We’ll get you everywhere in time’. Your company has created the expectation of perfection. So if you consider the equation customer happiness equals the difference between expectations and reality, it’s nothing but normal that they’re complaining! If their expectations are higher than reality, they’re unhappy. If reality is better than their expectations, they’re happy.”
Bill was nodding and thinking. He asked: “So what can we do?”
“Can you improve your operations?”, Bob asked.
“Then change the expectations…”
“That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll talk to Marc from Marketing about a more realistic message. I know it’s more fun to promise perfection, but unhappy customers are bad for all of us.”
“Great! Another beer?”