Great Expectations – The Risks of Exceeding Expectations and How to Manage Them
When working for your clients, customers, team, manager etc, exceeding their expectations sounds like exactly what you should be doing; but not necessarily. Let me explain the risks of exceeding expectations and how to manage them for success.
Take Apple as an example. They have recently launched the iPhone 7 with no headphone jack; an approach they claim is giving customers something they don’t know they need (headphones without the use of a 3.5mm jack). They have said that it takes courage to give you this future today and you’ll soon live with this new wireless audio standard and question why you even needed the old headphone jack.
And just look at the reaction! Lots of people hate the idea. Time will tell if it’s the right decision or not but the vast majority of people are, as yet, not along for the ride. They don’t agree with Apple’s version of ‘what they didn’t know that they needed’.
So should you just give them what they want? Possibly not. Otherwise, we would never have the iPod in the first place or the iPhone, you may still be using flopping discs and CD drives. We may be satisfied but hardly blown away.
So there is a dichotomy between delivering more than just what we say we want (exceeding our expectations) without gong so far that we can’t buy into the radical new idea being offered. (Another classic example is the Sinclair C5, look it up if you need to).
The Expectation Sweet Spot
There is a middle ground between what someone wants and what they don’t yet know that they need. But its a tricky area in the middle to get right, but one where great ideas, products and solutions lie.Between what someone wants & what they don't yet know they need, lie great ideas. Click To Tweet
Lets look at each of the two approaches before highlighting the benefits of the sweet spot.
1. Give them what they want!
Generally people are happy with this, it scratches their itch and they feel ‘satisfied’. But satisfied isn’t enough in many cases. It leads to questions like; is there something better out there? is there something still not addressed by this solution? It can create subtle but nagging doubts in your customer or manager.
2. Give them what they don’t know they need!
A wonderful solution where you give them more value than they asked for and expected. But that value is only realised if people adopt and implement it. The best idea in the world is only the best idea if it is used.The best idea in the world is only the best idea if it is used. Click To Tweet
In most cases, the natural human behaviour is to resist the new idea as change is not a comfortable process. Its fearful and full of perceived risk. Unless the recipient can see the vision, their place in it and that its not going to detriment them, its not an idea they will want to adopt. A further downside is that they will also feel angered that it seems that you didn’t listen to them and give them what they wanted (Option 1).
The Sweet Spot in the Middle
But you can do both if you plan carefully. If you can show them that you listened to them but also found ways to expand on their needs and address them with your solution, you can bring them on the journey to acceptance. The personal connection will be there for them as they can see the link between their view of the solution and your new & expanded version. Connecting the dots for them will help break down the barriers accepting the new view and to de-risking it for them in their mind.
This type of solution is engaging, exciting, innovative but pragmatic and much more likely to be accepted. It will allow you to differentiate yourself as a forward thinker who also has a clear understanding of the importance of managing stakeholders.
And your great idea that gets adopted, is a truly successful idea.
I’d love to hear about your successful ideas (and your not so successful ones) and how you engaged your stakeholders in your solutions. Just drop your stories or questions in the comments below. Thanks for reading.