What to Expect when They are Expecting

posted by Brian J. Curran

Well…….what were you expecting? An article about pregnancy at the work place? A blog about balancing career and domestic life? What drove your expectation? The title? The picture? Having previously read this book?

Forgive me if I lead you astray and don’t meet your expectations (Spoiler alert: I’m not going to write about pregnancy in the workplace). However, unmet expectations – those moments where your customer’s expectation of the engagement with your brand leads to disappointment, frustration, or worse – is the topic at hand.

So to make sure we’re all on the same page about expectations, here’s a definition that makes sense to me:

Customer Expectations

Customer expectations are beliefs about an impending engagement with a brand that serve as standards or reference points against which value received is judged by the customer.

The important thing to understand about customers is that they are carrying a mental list about what they want to happen and what they think is going to happen. These “mental lists” influence how customers approach upcoming engagements, as well as how they ultimately perceive the experience delivered by the engagement.

Ouch! One more thing our brands don’t control in this ever changing, customer driven, digitally disruptive environment.

People’s expectations don’t just appear out of thin air. Expectations are formed based upon factors affecting people’s every day lives. These include: 


You might consider these the current “trends” that the customer is exposed to in their day-to-day lives. These include political, economic, social, technical, legal and environmental issues, beliefs and experiences central in their lives. Most PESTLE factors are outside the control of your brand.

Situational Context

Where is the customer at this moment? What are they doing? What is the situation that they are in?  Who is with them? What technology and objects surround the customer?  What time of the day is it? These and many other details paint the complete picture of the customer at the moment of engagement. These factors greatly influence the expectation in the moment.

Previous Engagements

Customers bring their memories of past engagements, whether real or perceived, to each of their engagements and start to determine up front what is going to happen or what should happen. These memories can happen with different brands, different industries and even within different countries.


Finally, expectations are created based upon background and personal narrative, including financial status, age, gender, ethnicity, and the list goes on.

With these factors in mind, your challenge is to identify the specific elements that are driving your customers’ expectations. This investigation needs to be done at a Segment level (expectations will differ between groups of customers), with the ultimate goal of understanding customer needs and attitudes in order to drive their next behavior or set of future behaviors.

I highly recommend that you co-produce customer journey maps with your customers in order to help identify when and where expectations are formed, and then co-create engagements that meet customer expectations and deliver the kinds of meaningful experiences that drive the results you want.

The bottom line is this. You must have an engagement strategy that is aligned to your customer’s expectations if you want win. Better yet, set new expectations of what an experience should be by engaging in a Useful, Usable and Meaningful way and watch your competitors scramble as you set the new standard and the new expectation on what brands need to do to drive stickiness and advocacy.

I am expecting to hear your comments………..don’t disappoint me !

Originally posted on LinkedIn