We heard about the New Economy, the Experience Economy, the Attention Economy and, according to Trendwatching, we live now in the Expectation Economy. Here’s how they define it:
“The Expectation Economy is an economy inhabited by experienced, well-informed consumers from Canada to South Korea who have a long list of high expectations that they apply to each and every good, service and experience on offer.Their expectations are based on years of self-training in hyperconsumption, and on the biblical flood of new-style, readily available information sources, curators and BS filters. Which all help them track down and expect not just basic standards of quality but the ‘best of the best’.”
This idea has been around for a while: Luxury brands always had to deal with high expectations. If they didn’t perform they were greeted with irritation, indifference or closed wallets. Luxury brands could survive underdelivering for a certain period time since they were one of the few games in town. Since luxury brands have become ubiquitous, they need to perform on a higher level. And, even worse, the expectation benchmarks are increasing every day: Once Virgin introduced Upper Class, all domestic First Class experiences just felt cheap. How would you feel flying Virgin today when you experienced the new suites on Singapore Airlines with stand-alone beds?
The big difference from yesterday’s luxury expectations to today’s Expectation Economy is how common high expectations have become. From your 2 minutes on hold with a call center, to exploring a website or utilizing the return policy: Companies need to overdeliver every time. Or they face the wrath of the consumer. BusinessWeek calls them ‘Consumer Vigilantes’:
“Meet today’s consumer vigilantes. Even if they’re not all wielding hammers, many are arming themselves with video cameras, computer keyboards, and mobile devices to launch their own personal forms of insurrection. Frustrated by the usual fix-it options—obediently waiting on hold with Bangalore, gamely chatting online with a scripted robot—more consumers are rebelling against company-prescribed service channels. After getting nowhere with the call center, they’re sending “e-mail carpet bombs” to the C-suite, cc-ing the top layer of management with their complaints. When all else fails, a plucky few are going straight to the top after uncovering direct numbers to executive customer-service teams not easily found by mere mortals.
And of course, they’re filling up the Web with blogs and videos, leaving behind venom-spewed tales of woe. “There’s a certain degree of extremism that’s popping up, [a sense of] I’m going to get results, whatever means necessary,'” says Pete Blackshaw, executive vice-president of Nielsen Online Strategic Services, which measures consumer-generated media. “Companies can brush these off as being atypical, mutant consumers, or they can say there’s a very important insight in [their] emotions.”
Behind the guerrilla tactics is a growing disconnect between the experience companies promise and customers’ perceptions of what they actually get.”
This cleary indicates where traditional marketing/advertising has its biggest problem today: It used to be okay to lure people with beautiful imagery and promises of a better life. People knew it was a promise nobody could deliver. They were attracted by glossy $2 million commercials and knew they would get the key in a dreary dealership. It was disappointing but, hey, what can you do?
Businesses need to bridge this huge disparity through new tactics and models. In a perfect world, the make-believe world of traditional advertising builds an emotional response. This response has to be nurtured through conversational marketing and social media tactics that draw people closer to the product and business. Allows people to express themselves, build relationships.
Businesses have to value conversations equal to transactions. Or as Mark Silver said in response to Doc Searls question “Can marketing be conversational?”
“I believe that many web-based proprietors are trying to re-engage this aspect of ‘marketing.’ But, in order to succeed, the marketer has to prize the conversation as highly as the customer does. And, the marketers has to be willing to say ‘no’ to customers, as much as customers might say ‘no’ to a merchant. This brings a sense of ease, equality and, yes, partnership to the experience.”
We have move away from CRM to PBRN (People Businesses Relationship Nurturing)
Because ‘Relationships – of all kinds- are like sand held in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto some of it, but most will be spilled. A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively, and the relationship slips away and is lost.’ – Kaleel Jamison