Meeting Customer Expectations: Delight By Design

customer expectations
If you don’t meet customer expectations, customers will be disappointed

Research constantly states that it is easier to sell to existing customers than it is to find and acquire new customers. It is also far more cost effective giving rise to larger profit margins for your business. Communicating with audiences is one way to ensure that you continue to sell to existing customers with email being an important part of this process. However, there is often one area of business that organisations often forget: meeting customer expectations.

When it comes to returning customers nothing influences them more than customer service and the quality of your product. Price has a limited impact once you’ve acquired the customer; it is more about the quality of your product and the customer service you provide.

The quality of the product is of vital importance. You don’t have to have the best quality item on the market; it just needs to match customer expectations.

A recent experience demonstrated exactly how this was important.

A Bad Experience

When ordering crafts from a large UK supplier online recently, my wife spent hours reading reviews and comparing products before making a purchasing decision. Her standards were not high as one of the products she chose was a felt off-cut product. The product online looked like this:

customer expectations one
What would be your customer expectations after see this image?

These look pretty good and based on that picture. Most customer expectations would be that the product arrived in strips of felt. Especially as another picture for the product was:

customer expectations two
Customer expectations are probably set at these being a possibility with the product.

So my wife was very surprised to find the product looked like this when it arrived:

customer expectations three
This has certainly not met customer expectations

This is not what the customer expectations was set at and so was rather disappointing. It wasn’t the only thing wrong with the order with some products being damaged and others that were underwhelming considering their description. Yet it was the above product that didn’t meet our customer expectations the most.

The largest piece in this bag was just 5 centimetres (2 inches) along an edge, far too small to create a finger puppet as implied.

What Action Was Taken To Meet Customer Expectations?

When we spoke to the company, there was no desire for them to meet my wife’s customer expectations. All they stated was to return the items. After we mentioned the damaged products and demonstrated the difference between the advertised product and the one displayed, the company simply issued a full refund and told us to keep the products as a goodwill gesture.

Yet this action doesn’t fulfil customer expectations. My wife wanted the product that was advertised and very clearly stated that on the telephone and in correspondence. Therefore, the online retailer didn’t listen to the customer. Giving a refund only means now my wife has to search again for a new supplier who can give her what she wants.

What Action Should Have Been Taken To Meet Customer Expectations?

The simple solution is easy. The customer service team should have listened to the customer expectations and then met them. My wife wanted felt suitable for finger puppets and so a suitable product should have been sent due to the confusion between the advertised product and the product that arrived. For example, they could have quite simply sent some felt sheets. This would have pleased my wife, met her expectations and probably would have encouraged her to shop there again, only being more aware now of what products were suitable for her needs.

By simply issuing a refund the company is effectively saying that they don’t care about the custom. If you have the same attitude to every customer, you’ll soon run out of business, especially online.


Meeting and exceeding your customer’s expectations is an important part of being an online business. If you display an image of your product, the delivered item should look like the profile picture. If you do not meet the customer’s perception, then you need to resolve it by listening carefully to their needs and finding a solution that will meet it.

This will transform a discontented customer into a brand advocate that can be one of the most powerful marketing platforms you have.

How do you resolve missed customer expectation experiences? Do you ever just refund?

Let us know in the comments.