How well do you manage the expectations of your customers? Your organization can win or lose in the marketplace based on your ability to carefully manage those expectations.

Let me give you an example.

Take Southwest Airlines. They’re constantly chosen as one of the highest customer-satisfied airlines in the world. But why? I mean, really ask yourself why! They don’t give you a seat. It’s like a stampede to get the best seat – you’ve got to be careful not to get trampled. You don’t get a beverage, and there’s no first class section.

So what’s the secret? Well, the secret is simple. Southwest has very carefully positioned itself as a low-cost no-frills airline. And short of an Act of God, they will get you to your destination on time! When those boarding doors shut, the plane is already barrelling down the runway while people are still putting their bags away! It’s remarkable. “No matter what happens, we’re getting you there on time!”

Of course, the Southwest way isn’t for everyone. But it works for them.

Zappos is the big example you’ve all heard about over the past few years… From 9-hour customer service calls, to taking back thousands of pairs of shoes from the family of a mother who passed away, to ordering pizzas for customers! These stories gain publicity, and I’d be crazy to say Zappos hasn’t been successful. But the expectations are set and there’s no going back for Zappos.

Just like Southwest, the Zappos way isn’t the only way, and most likely isn’t your way.

You need to very carefully manage the expectations you create in the customer’s mind. This needs to apply to all of your marketing and customer acquisition endeavours – and even more importantly, your customer retention efforts. Customers need to instantly know what they can expect with your products and services, and the type of support you’ll offer (before, during, and after their interactions with your company).

Anything above and beyond is where the magic happens, but promising more and offering less is a recipe for disaster.

How carefully is your marketing team managing the customer’s expectations?