Customer Expectations – How To Exceed Them Using Brand Positioning
November 11, 2019
Your customer’s expectations have a direct impact on your bottom line. If your customers leave satisfied, you’ll enjoy good reviews and more referrals. However, if they leave unhappy, the damage isn’t limited to bad reviews and no referrals. In some cases, you may have to pay the client back which means a lot of wasted time and money.
If you want to prevent these issues and enjoy more positive reviews and referrals, then you are reading the right article. In it, we detail how customer expectations impact your company, what brand positioning is and how you can use it to improve your results.
If while reading the article you feel you could use some help with your brand positioning, feel free to reach out to us and have a chat about the possibilities.
Now, let’s dive in!
How do customer expectations impact your company?
Customer expectations impact a much larger portion of your company than you may initially think. For starters, a poor company reputation as a result of unmet customer expectations can mean employees do not feel the commitment towards you as they would for a company seen in a more positive light.
It’s often said that your employees are your best salespeople (even if they aren’t salespeople!). If they are proud to be a member of your company, you may see them bringing in new clients or spreading the word about the company they work for.
But this isn’t the only way that customer expectations impact your company…
Your company reputation is one of the most important things for your business. It’s directly linked to customer expectations, as the more consistently a company meets or exceeds expectations, the better their reputation will become.
As you saw in the last example, a poor reputation can cost you referrals from your employees. However, it can have an even bigger impact on employees, as when they don’t like the company they work for, a whole host of issues appear. We’re going to get into these issues now, as well as issues relating to your partners/suppliers, and your customers.
If employees can’t be proud of who they work for, then their work ethic will almost definitely suffer. On the other hand, when employees work for a company they are proud to work for, they go the extra mile and put in the extra effort. Since customer expectations have a huge impact on the reputation your company has, the effects of not meeting up to them can be catastrophic for the internal operations in your company.
When your company gets a bad image, the downward spiral can start without notice and speed up rapidly depending on the customers you’re focusing on. If you target a local area and word spreads about your bad reputation, your employees will get disheartened very quickly. This leads to less pride being taken in the work and thus an even lower-quality service.
Employees are often the last people SMEs think are impacted by a bad reputation; that’s exactly why we started with them. They’re not the only ones though, your customers are another group impacted by your reputation.
The second group of people that are influenced strongly by your brand’s reputation are, of course, your customers. With information being so freely available, a poor reputation spreads like wildfire. Just a few negative reviews on Google My Business can turn your stream of new clients into a mere trickle.
If you have good reviews and build a good name within your industry, customers will be attracted to your company. Good reviews are trust signals to prospects researching your business. Ensuring good reviews all starts with managing customer expectations. If these don’t align with your service, you’re in for a tough ride.
Partners and suppliers
Partners and suppliers will also catch wind of your reputation, and if it’s a bad one, may not do business with you at all! When you have a good company reputation, the ease at which you work with partners and suppliers may also increase.
Partners and suppliers could be external sales or marketing companies, but may also be even more impactful for your company. If relationships with investors and suppliers worsen, you could potentially have a whole host of problems coming your way.
Trust is directly linked to your reputation, and thus to customer expectations. It trickles down all parts of your business in the same way too. A lack of trust in your business will make it difficult to work with employees, severely impact the numbers of customers you get and make it difficult for you to work with partners and suppliers.
Trust is one of the biggest driving factors in decision making, and trust-based decisions are made by your employees, partners and customers when working with you.
One of the most important factors that influence trust are the promises you make to your customers. This is covered a little later on in this post.
Costs & time
If you fall extremely short of customer expectations, you may even get people demanding their money back. Sure, this is normal for some business models from time to time. However, you will notice when it gets out of hand.
Customers demanding their money back can get nasty, especially when you run a services business. The time you or your employees have put into the work is gone, and if you refund the client, so is the money!
Falling short on customer expectations means more complaints and more people asking for a refund. As if this isn’t bad enough, you as a business owner have a duty to ensure these complaints are dealt with politely and in proper fashion. This means spending the time/money you’ve already given back to the client on customer service…
If you weren’t convinced about the importance of meeting customer expectations, we’re sure you are now!
We’re now going to go into one of the most important leverage points you have to ensure you consistently meet or exceed expectations; brand positioning.
What is brand positioning?
Brand positioning, according to Keap (https://keap.com/marketing/what-brand-positioning) is defined as
“the space a company owns in the mind of a customer and how it differentiates itself from competitors, brand positioning is a marketing strategy that helps business set themselves apart.”
Brand positioning is simply how you position yourself in the marketplace. The way you position yourself is also the way you’ll be seen and also impacts the kinds of people you attract. Different groups of customers will have different expectations, and different things you do and say (or the way you say it), impact the expectations customers have when buying from you.
There are a lot of different factors you can use to change your positioning in the marketplace and the minds of consumers. Some of these are packaging and colour schemes, however, there are other things you can use to change this. The two we’ll get into later on in this article are pricing strategy and service.
A great example of brand positioning is GoPro’s website (https://gopro.com/en/us/)
On their website they show images and videos of extreme sports and people wearing the GoPro cameras. There is very little text, and the text that is there is in small sentences to portray a faster and more-rugged vibe. They clearly speak to an audience that feels younger, using words like “radness” and “to the max.”
They’ve also aligned their products and pricing to match the target audience. Since they’re the original and have a strong brand, they can charge more than most other brands while still selling the most too. This is what effective brand positioning can do for your company as well.
How to use brand positioning to improve your results
Brand positioning is often more focused on the kinds of clients you attract than their expectations. This is a shame, as client expectations also play a huge role in the success of your brand positioning strategy.
Most posts about brand positioning go into your target demographics and establishing yourself as unique in the industry. Sure, if everyone is catering to high-end clients, becoming the first “normally priced” option will have a positive impact on your numbers. This is a given and something you should definitely keep in mind.
Better placement with this in mind will mean more leads come in and the customers that are interested are also the customers you want to serve. The problems start when you position yourself as the high-end and best option and then charge more for a service of lesser quality than an alternative options.
The way you position yourself has a direct impact on client expectations, and this, in turn, has a direct impact on a company’s results.
By positioning yourself in a way that speaks to your target audience without raising expectations beyond what you’re capable of, you can dramatically increase not only the number of leads that come in but also the level of customer satisfaction.
There are two important factors in positioning when it comes to client expectations, and these are your pricing and the service you offer. It’s these two factors that we’re going to get into next.
Pricing isn’t everything, but it does have a huge impact on client expectations. Even though pricing is important in the B2B space, it is even more of a driving factor in B2C markets. With sites like Amazon and eBay driving prices down, the expectations clients in the B2C space have are very high for even the lowest-priced items.
If you charge high prices, then expectations are going to be high too. At the end of the day, customers expect to get what they pay for. If they pay you more for a service that’s of lower quality than a competitor, the chance of them leaving happy is slim. They will feel regret that they didn’t go for the other provider, and a client leaving your company with regret is never a good thing!
So, does this mean you should just lower your prices to ensure you always meet expectations?
Of course not!
Only one company can be the cheapest, so it’s no use if everyone tries to be this company. The cheapest company in an industry usually isn’t paid enough to deliver high-quality work, which often results in bad reviews regardless of the price.
If a local car dealership sells a car cheaper than one 5 miles down the road, then they may attract more attention. Sounds great for marketing purposes. If after the client has bought the car, it breaks down 10 minutes after leaving the dealership, they’re going to be angry regardless of whether it was slightly cheaper or not.
If this happens to the more-expensive dealership, they may offer to fix the car for free, as there is some more room in their margin. If the cheaper dealership does this, they may sell the car at a loss.
As you can see, your pricing strategy is a balance between charging enough to deliver a satisfactory service and not pricing yourself so high that clients end up with unrealistic expectations.
For some clients, a satisfactory service is doable with cheap pricing, while for others, you’re going to need to charge a little more. Unique positioning is of vital importance to developing an accurate and effective pricing strategy.
Why is it worth it?
When you’re following a certain pricing strategy, it’s not enough just pricing yourself higher or lower and being done with it. You need to explain to your customers in your marketing why the services are worth it. This is often done very subtly, as well as sometimes by directly explaining it.
Positioning your brand effectively encompasses all aspects of your company. When tailoring to lower-end consumers, your whole brand needs to speak to these people and demonstrate to them why you’re the best option in this price bracket. The same goes when pricing your products/services averagely, or on the higher end.
Demonstrating why you’re worth the extra funds starts with the impression your company makes. If your website is multi-coloured, filled with fluorescent blues and pinks and uses Word-Art fonts on the home page, you’re not portraying a service that’s of high-quality or valuable (in most industries, anyway).
In short, your brand positioning and pricing strategy need to align. Let’s take a look at two watch brands as an example.
First, we have Rolex. When you look at their website, you instantly see the kinds of people they target. The site makes it clear exactly what kind of company it is and why it’s worth paying the extra money. They do this without listing the prices on the site. You won’t often see luxury brands have sales or offer things like free shipping, as their target market simply isn’t interested in these things. https://www.rolex.com/
Secondly, we’ve chosen Casio. On Casio’s site, you can see they tailor to your average Joe. They prompt you to view sales they’re having and the colour schemes and tone they use on their website clearly establishes them as unique when compared to Rolex. https://www.casio.com/
Another important point you can adjust in order to deliver on customer expectations is service…
Your service is directly linked to the price you charge. If you charge a lower price, you’re going to be able to spend less money delivering good work. This is even more prevalent in the services industry, where all money received is expressed in time. Charging £500 instead of £600 when you charge £50 per hour means you can spend two hours less on the project.
The more you receive, the better the product/service can be. By adding a few extras to your product/service though, you can quickly increase the perceived value without adding as much to the costs.
A good example of this is packaging when selling a product. If you sell t-shirts and just shove them into plastic packaging for shipping, the customer receiving the product will be less pleased than if it comes in a specially designed box.
Packaging can quickly add a lot of perceived value to a product without costing you nearly as much. This example of packaging can also be taken in a broader sense, as delivering a better-looking monthly report or cleaning up after finishing your work can quickly add value without taking a lot of your time. Even though it’s not technically packaging, it still falls under how you package and present your products and services.
Promises you make to your customers are one of the most important things to watch when it comes to customer expectations. Many companies promise the world, but if they don’t deliver on these promises, it can be extremely detrimental to their business.
The moment you make promises you are committing to something. This is great if you can deliver on them – it shows you are serious in the products/services you offer. However, if you can’t live up to them, then expect a lot of customers asking for a refund, and maybe even a lawsuit!
Some notable mentions of companies who had to pay settlements due to misleading advertising are Activia, Uber and Volkswagen. If you’re unsure if your advertising is misleading, check out https://www.gov.uk/marketing-advertising-law/regulations-that-affect-advertising
Price x service – bringing it all together
Competing with other companies on price isn’t a business strategy; it’s a way of destroying the market. Trying to offer ridiculously high-quality services for a fraction of the price they’re worth won’t do you any good in the long run. This is why creating a consistent balance in your pricing strategy and the product/service you provide is so important to your broader positioning strategy.
If the research you do into who your ideal target audience shows you should position yourself for higher-end clients, you need to price your services accordingly and add enough value to warrant this price. High-end buyers may even not be interested in your services if you don’t price them right, as they may be seen as cheap in their eyes.
By providing a better service, you can warrant the higher price, but there are also supporting things you can do which can help deliver more perceived value. Small things like an extra 30-minute call every month, free reports or better presentation can make a huge difference in the perceived value you add.
As you have seen in this post, the balance between quality and price isn’t just based on providing the best service for the cheapest price but tailoring both your service and pricing to the right audience for your business. Good brand positioning will help you do this.
Brand positioning impacts customer expectations, which in turn have an impact on customer satisfaction. If you aren’t meeting customer expectations, then you’re going to have a hard time keeping your doors open, let alone growing your business.
There are two important factors in brand positioning that determine a customer's expectations and these are the price and the service they offer. By ensuring you price your services/products correctly and deliver a service that matches (or exceeds) what is expected for this price, you’ll be in a much better position to grow your business.
Looking for help with your brand positioning? If so, we offer a variety of branding services to help you out. All our services come with a 100% money-back guarantee; there’s no risk attached!