Manage expectations and avoid disappointed clients

Can of soup with tomatoes

Manage expectations so your customers know exactly what your product or service will deliver

My mum’s home-made potato soup is exceedingly tasty – she calls it “Mother’s Brew” and we, her now-very-grown-up children, have been fans of this tattie-based treasure since even before we could hold a spoon. However, one memorable day, when I was eight or nine, mother informed my brother and me (yes, “me” is correct   – see why here) that we would be having tomato soup for lunch. I should explain that, until that point, tomato soup in our house had always meant the familiar Heinz Cream of Tomato: smooth in texture, vibrant orange in colour, and tasting… well, tasting the way I expected tomato soup to taste.

On the fateful day in question, however, our busy mother had valiantly decided to turn her hand to home-made tomato soup. With the benefit of hindsight (and personal experience of cooking for myriad ungrateful offspring!), I now appreciate her taking the time to make the soup from first principles and how authentically “tomatoey” her homemade version was. I also realise she was probably endeavouring to protect  her offspring from any nasty preservatives that might have been lurking in old-fashioned canned soups.

However, on being presented with her lovingly prepared concoction, my brother and I were… unimpressed. Indeed our reaction went well beyond childish disappointment – we were aghast, and we didn’t hesitate to make our displeasure known, bemoaning the unfamiliar lumpy texture and substantially less sweet taste of this imposter, masquerading under the name “tomato soup”.

Why our seemingly unreasonable and hyperbolic reaction? Well, essentially, because it wasn’t what we’d expected.

And, of course, it’s the same with marketing products and services. Your customers’ expectations have to be managed, and one way of doing that is by ensuring that your website and printed promotional materials convey an honest, no-surprises (unless they’re good ones!) account of what your customers can realistically expect. The truth, packaged in an engaging, interesting way, is far more wholesome than unrealistic promises that are destined to disappoint.

Had my mother warned us in advance what to expect from her homemade tomato soup –  for example, that it would have a different texture and flavour from what we’d experienced before, and that it boasted the benefit of being healthier for us – my brother and I would have been better prepared for, and more receptive to, the alien, tart-flavoured, ruby-coloured, chunky broth that appeared in our plates.

So when you’re pondering the wording for your new website or printed promotional materials, make sure your copy does two things:

  • prepare your customers for precisely what your organisation will supply, using unambiguous, engaging language.
  • tell them why it’ll be beneficial to them by giving clear examples of the advantages of using your product/service.

That way your customers will know exactly what to expect – and there will be no unwelcome surprises.  After all, Yours Truly is the living proof that unwelcome surprises can be remembered for a very long time…

 

 

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