A few weeks ago I decided to go to the movies with a girlfriend. We chose Prince of Persia.
As it happened, it was opening weekend so I hadn't seen the reviews. However, I was a little worried about seeing it. The previews made it look sort of muddled and I was a bit puzzled by the choice of Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead. (He never struck me as the action adventure type hero.) Worse yet, it was based on a game.
Yee gads. Why did I agree to see this movie again?
Needless to say I walked into that theater with VERY low expectations.
So imagine how happy I was when the movie DIDN'T suck. Yes I know, it got some bad reviews. But truly, if you're looking for a light, mindless, action-packed summer flick, Prince of Persia delivers. (And I was also pleasantly surprised at Jake Gyllenhaal -- talk about some nice eye candy.)
The interesting part about all of this is I think my impression of that movie is higher than it should be. Why? Because my expectations were so low and the movie beat them so significantly -- thus my overall impression is that it's a good movie.
Now, let's take another movie where I went in with HIGH expectations and the movie DIDN'T deliver. Like The English Patient. Won an Academy Award. Everyone was buzzing about it. I found it slow and terribly depressing. I also didn't quite get why the Kristin Scott Thomas's character would have an affair with the terribly depressing Ralph Fiennes's character when her husband seemed like such a charming fellow. (This was before I saw the Seinfeld episode where Elaine fell asleep during the movie and was ostracized about it. Happy to know Elaine and I have something in common.)
So my overall impression of The English Patient is that it wasn't a very good movie at all. Despite winning an Oscar. Because it came in so much lower than my expectations.
(And if you take this one step further, it certainly seems like I'm saying The Prince of Persia is better than The English Patient. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't go there.)
So what does all of this have to do with you and your business? Well, let's take a look at your client and customer expectations.
If your customers and clients are hiring you or investing in your products and service with high expectations, and you aren't meeting them, their overall impression is going to be they had an unpleasant experience with you. Even if your offerings are better than your competition, they're still going to be disappointed.
But if your customers and clients come in with slightly lower expectations, and your products and services blow those expectations away, they're going to be thrilled to death with you, tell all their friends and associates about you and maybe even write a newsletter article about you.
This is why it's so important to underpromise and overdeliver. Especially now. Because people are becoming more careful with their money so the last thing you want to do is leave them with a sour taste in their mouth after doing business with you.