It is common place knowledge that Customer Satisfaction is the differential between Customer Perception and Customer Expectation.
If the client perception of the product delivered is lower than their expectations, negative satisfaction is the result. If however the client’s perception of the product delivered exceeds their expectations a positive level of satisfaction is achieved.
Companies have by far understood that by effectively managing the three elements of this formula, they can ensure client satisfaction and hence garner competitive advantages. The question here is…Can social media be used to manipulate the above equation to garner positive differential between perception and expectation.
1. Can companies use this media to reduce customer expectations?
I guess yes, by being conservative and talking about their products with realistic expectations.
Customer expectations are typically based on past buying experiences,the opinions of friends, and marketer and competitor information and promises. However, reducing customer expectations too much can satisfy those who buy, but may attract few customers and can create a risk of competitors enticing the prospective customers with better products. So, for starters, this may not be the right approach.
2. Can companies use this media to increase customer perception of value?Definitely.
Social media can be used efficiently in 2 ways to achieve the above.
a)Companies can set up corporate blogs which are sophisticated brand building and product positioning approaches.
By managing the customer’s subjective and intangible assessment of the brand, they can increase the brand equity, hence adding to the customer’s perception of value.
b)Companies can ride the CGM wave,and by suitably incorporating the same in the marketing mix,identify evangelists who can use the social media tools of networking and online communities. It is clear that a few influencers can generate a great number of product mentions if they decide to feature a particular product or service in their blogs.
By building relationships with these individuals, companies can not only have positive media generated about them, but also increase the value equity of it’s products in terms of quality, price and convenience.
Both the above strategies (a & b) can aimed at increasing customer perception of value for the company and it’s products. Agreed that customer perception is a final function of the quality of the product delivered, but considering an optimum condition where the product is of standard quality, an increased customer perception of value for a company’s brand definitely helps in increasing the level of customer satisfaction.