Guest Stan Phelps: solving needs or exceeding expectations – which is most important?


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In February, I wrote a post that triggered a bit of a debate. I posed the question, “Exceeding expectations or solving customer problems: What’s more important?” You may have seen it here, on Customer Experience for Profit, or over at CustomerThink where my blog is in syndication.

The post was inspired by a Forbes article by Robert Passikoff of Brand Keys entitled, “The Final Frontier: Customer Expectations.” My post received more than a dozen comments from customer experience and brand thought leaders Robert Passikoff, Bob Thompson, Hank Barnes, Ian Williams, Maz Iqbal, Joseph Michelli and David Jacques. Comment after comment we see that both are important. And I shared a belief drawn from many years of work at Aveus: a need must be solved before a delightful surprise translates to meaningful value.

Last week I caught up with Stan Phelps via Skype to continue the conversation. Stan crowd sourced 1001 examples of brands that deliver something unexpected, and created What’s Your Purple Goldfish?, so no surprise – we had many ideas to exchange. Here is Part One of our discussion:

Here are our main points in summary:

  • Linda – “WOW” gets used too much in marketing and is not a legitimate business goal. It’s downright scary from a sustainability perspective.
  • Stan – Acknowledging Linda’s POV … people don’t buy products, they look to solve their needs.
  • Stan – The importance of solving those needs should not be understated, but at the end of the day all companies solve needs. The key is to do the “little extras.”
  • Linda – Every business solves needs, the “how well” is where differentiation lives.
  • Stan – Merely meeting expectations is no longer enough. Your product is now your marketing.
  • Stan – Too much of marketing is focused on the prospect . . . and not enough on the customer.
  • Linda – From discussions with business leaders, hearing that they focus on creating demand (70%) and focus on current customers (30%) as a rule.
  • Linda – The little extra should be about anticipating and solving customer needs.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this conversation over on Stan’s Marketing Lagniappe blog.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Linda Ireland
Linda Ireland is co-owner and partner of Aveus LLC, a global strategy and operational change firm that helps leaders find money in the business performance chain while improving customer experiences. As author of Domino: How to Use Customer Experience to Tip Everything in Your Business toward Better Financial Performance, Linda built on work done at Aveus and aims to deliver real-life, actionable, how-to help for leaders of any organization.


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