What Did You Expect?

What do you expect from me, Mr. Customer?

Walmart: To give me the best value for my household dollar
Nordstrom: To make the process of buying clothes fit into my busy schedule
Zappos: To never say “no”
FedEx: To make sure that my customers get what I ship them when I say
Apple: To integrate my digital life into a single, seamless platform accessible through elegantly simple devices

Ok, so what’s the point?  My friend Tim Sanchez wrote a post the other day about expectations setting that got me thinking.  At the intersection of customers and brands, who’s expectations are they anyway?  And why do some brands so wildly under deliver on the most modest of expectations?  While, as Tim demonstrated through a video from Apple, some set meteoric expectations yet never seem to miss the mark.

Has Apple had some hiccups?  Absolutely.  Remember Antenna-Gate?  But, ask people now and its a faded memory somewhere deep in the cerebellum.

The point is this.  I don’t think its Apple that sets the expectations at all.  I think their customers (me, being in the raving fan category) are the ones that do.  Remember reading “The Discipline of Market Leaders” back in B-School?  The argument was that companies that excel focus on either product superiority, customer intimacy or operational excellence, and that great companies have a dominate persona; their value propositions being driven primarily through one of these.

We think of Apple as being world class in product superiority.  I’d argue that they, in fact, are so intimately knowledgeable about their customers that they design products that their customers don’t even know they need yet.  And, they understand their customers so well that what may seem like outlandish claims in this video is mere feedback to their customers of exactly what they hear their customers tell them when the ask the question:

What do you expect?

Comments

  1. Barry you hit the nail on the head with this statement -> "so intimately knowledgeable about their customers…" They nail the user requirements / business value equation every time. Organizations that take the time to perfect customer intimacy give them selves an edge.

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