How insights into customer expectations will shape your growth


A customer’s experience of a product or service is in part determined by their expectations. Measuring the former without understanding the latter tells managers nothing about their  organisation’s strengths or weaknesses. Which makes it much harder to diagnose what’s in the way of growth.

Expectations determine experiences.

Think about it. The promises a business makes, the packaging and pricing of its service, its reputation and your perceptions of the firm and its industry, all shape customer expectations. So when they actually experience the service they judge it against their prior expectations that formed in their head. For instance, the reported pain relief of a branded aspirin vs a cheaper unbranded one is higher even when the pill is exactly the same.. Why? Because the expectation created by the higher price and  glossy packaging determined the pain relief experienced. Which is why customer satisfaction without understanding expectations reveals very little insight into how to improve

Customers expectations are not just shaped by you

People are different which is why their expectations vary. Socio economic factors lay a part but segmenting them in this way disguises more complex attitudes. For instance, parents of school children fall into three types (according to DFES research): those who feel the school is 100% responsible for their child’s educational performance; those who see it as a 50:50 partnership and those who see it as entirely their responsibility. Now, imagine how satisfaction scores would  differ across these three types? Without understanding their attitudes, their responses would tell you nothing about how to improve.


Luckily most firms don’t do this and so don’t know how to improve their performance. Which presents a great opportunity to those who want to grow an unfair share of their market. All you need to do is to understand customer expectations, recognise attitudinal segments and then measure their relative satisfaction.  That would tell you everything you need to improve loyalty and find new customers

Francis Wyburd 

whereyoustand is my London based insight and advisory firm. The combination of my ‘hidden voice of the customer’ research and marketing advisory services helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

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