Does Social Expectation play a role in Customer Satisfaction?

Everyone has their expectations when buying a product. Whether this is conscious or not; this is true for both, in-store and online purchases. Customer satisfaction is vital to a company’s progress.

After saving money for a long period of time to buy something you always wanted, you would be disappointed if the product didn’t meet your expectations. By contrast, there are little or no particular expectations when purchasing random products in a supermarket. Expectations are linked to experience and the price of a product.

Money can be spent only once. A product fulfils particular needs; when the one could fulfil a need for a lower price, why should you buy the more expensive one? The possibility is greater that the quality of the ‘expensive’ product is better than the cheaper one. It is the customers’ choice. However, it is not fair to have the same expectations for both products; there must be a reason that one product is more expensive than the other.

Customer opinions after the purchase are important for companies. A satisfied customer is more likely to be loyal to a company as compared to dissatisfied customers. This is important for the future growth and sustainability of any company. In this regard, 80/20 is the general rule of thumb we can consider: 20% of the customers are responsible for 80% of the revenue.

Measuring satisfaction

Getting to know customers’ expectations is a difficult task. Expectations are personal, and, therefore, subjective. Not everyone has the same expectations of the same product. Somebody who has been driving a car his entire life has great expectations when buying a new one from the same brand. Never having had problems with the old one results that the expectations for the new one are the same. That is the reason why the customer is not switching brands. A young customer who buys his first car doesn’t have a life of experience which results in different expectations.

For most companies, customer relations are an ongoing process. For example, the continuous relationships between vendors and business customers or between a supermarket and its regular customers. Sometimes it could be difficult to measure customer expectations. There may not be a perfect way to measure them. Market researchers may be better off avoiding measuring customer expectations and relying instead on measures of satisfaction.

Generally, customer relationship management (CRM) calls for developing a more intimate knowledge of customers. This prescription, in turn, may suggest a more extensive use of customer surveys or mystery shopping programs. There are significant differences among specific types of measurements used in customer satisfaction research.

Market researchers should beware of over-reliance on customer surveys as measurements of service expectations. Unless they are carefully crafted, surveys are not always reliable due to a relatively high percentage of non-responsiveness. Surveys may not always filled in objectively or responses are constructed to comply with survey requirements rather than showcasing actual fact.

In addition to the sometimes-questionable data produced by such surveys, research shows that customer expectations can have a detrimental impact on customer satisfaction and the relationship with the company. High prices for products set by companies nearly always results in high expectations for customers. Fair enough! When the product doesn’t meet the expectations of the customer, a disappointment cannot be avoided which results in a damaged relationship with the firm.

Mystery shopping programs can increase understanding about customer expectations and, therefore, help raise customer satisfaction. The program provides insights into the performance of your front line, customer-facing staff. Improving the functionality of your front line has a direct effect on customer satisfaction, as a result, mystery shopping helps businesses better understand their customers.

To conclude, social expectations play a role in customer satisfaction. However, measuring customer expectations is difficult. Expectations are personal, and, therefore, subjective; more efficient is measuring customer satisfaction. Understanding your customers has always been, and still is of greatest importance. Mystery shopping can help raise customer satisfaction by providing insights into the front line performance. The front line has a direct effect on customer satisfaction.

Maarten Brouwer is doing an internship at AQ Services International in Kuala Lumpur. He studies Marketing Management at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, The Netherlands. The choice to do an internship in Kuala Lumpur fits the personal interest in different cultures.

Read more of Maarten’s articles here.