Expectation and Customer Experience

by Marianne Richmond on November 10, 2005

This post has two purposes. The first is to discuss expectation and our overall customer experience as determined by customer service or tech support. Probably that is the experience you are expecting based upon the title.  The second, is to test what I have now called, the Mystery of the Technorati Tags.  The Technorati Tag Mystery does ultimately relate to expectation theory and customer experience, as those of us who have needed tech support from Typepad or Technorati understand.

Businesses seem to forget the value of the post-purchase experience where frequently we make a decision to end our relationships with products and services. It is the customers most valuable recourse against a bad experience and should be viewed by businesses as such..ending the pain of customer/tech support hell is in in the hands of the customer. It can also end the relationship.

However,we are talking about the expectation of a bad experience not it’s value. So, simply put, expectation is what is considered the most likely outcome. In mathematical terms, expectation is expected value, which" is the sum of the probability of each possible outcome of the experiment multiplied by its payoff ("value")." This is usually demonstrated by a roulette wheel.

For customer experience, we formulate expectations of the experience based upon many variables such as previous experiences with the business, previous experiences with similar businesses, or things that we have been told or read about the business.

Our investment is our time and in the case of paid tech support, money. So, in a sense when we initiate the customer support encounter, we are rolling a roulette  wheel where the odds of winning, problem solved, are based upon how many spokes (variables) give us reason to expect a positive outcome versus how many give us reason to expect a negative outcome. There are all kinds of different permutations of this…we expect a really bad experience and it isn’t as bad as we expected; we decide it was a good experience by virtue of being not as bad as we expected. However, rather than belabor this….my point is simply this: the expectation of a bad service experience influences the purchase decision. We weigh many variables in our purchase decisions but if we are at Best Buy looking for a new laptop and we have spent way too much time on the phone in the past with Toshiba with less than satisfactory results, that laptop is going to have to have many positive attributes to make me consider buying it. The most convincing trade-off is typically price. If the price is low enough I might devalue the expectation of poor customer service. If there is not enough to offset my expectations, I will purchase another brand. And, look at the inverse….I might even pay more for another brand based upon a positive experience that is now a positive expectation. For services, cell phones, cable, legal or our attorney, accountant, or even our therapist…negative experiences, post purchase make us receptive to competitive messages….our relationship with the brand or service who has put us into expectation high alert is a dead man walking; we might grant a stay of execution for a price but it will only be temporary.

Now, let’s discuss Typepad. or their full name, WaitingforTypepad. Typepad tech support is an oxymoron. Besides my own blog, I have several other accounts. Several clients and my son’s 7th grade parents’ blog. I have had questions and issues on all of them. My experiences with tech support has been uniformly bad. There seems to be an elaborate entire system designed to avoid fixing problems and answering questions. Easy or difficult…nothing gets answered in the first contact. I am totally in the expectation of bad experience paradigm and as soon as I find an alternative, I will leave the Pad. It is not my Type. Even the buy one year, get one year free offer, which initially made sense, is not enough to convince me that I should waste my time seeking service. I’ll pay month to month and wait for an alternative. Anyone listening? Didn’t think so…

And Technorati? Well, I guess their theory is that you can’t have a bad experience if you don’t have one at all. I am still waiting. My mystery of the Technorato tags? Well, I just tried another recommended fix. We shall see. Business Blog Consulting just posted that they are sick of Typepad. A non answer from Typepad was posted. LOW expectations!

 

 

 

 

 

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