Feeling Fuzzy? Understanding Customer Expectations

Customer Expectations

It is generally considered that there are four types of expectations: desired; equitable or deserved; predictive; adequate (minimum tolerable).

Desired (or- ideal) expectations concern the optimum level of performance from a brand. This level is what could happen under the best circumstances, and is a barometer of excellence. Some researchers claim desires are a more appropriate standard since they are based on buyer/consumers’ values, or fundamental human needs

Equitable or deserved expectation means what customers feel they should receive.

Predictive expectations are what a customer thinks would actually happen. For example, a patient visiting a medical specialist would probably desire to see the doctor at exactly the appointed time. However, from experience the patient knows this will not happen. They might, however, feel that in all fairness (being a regular patient) they deserve to be attended to no more than 5-10 minutes later. However, realistically they predict the specialist will be running 20-30 minutes behind schedule.

Adequate (or minimum tolerable) expectations indicate the lowest level of service the customer will tolerate. Most satisfaction researchers have tended to use predictive expectations when modelling the expectancy-disconfirmation paradigm. However, recent research suggests that perhaps customer desires or wants have better explanatory power in explaining consumer satisfaction processes.

Fuzzy expectations exist when customers expect a  provider to solve a problem but do not have a clear understanding of what should be done;

Explicit expectations are clear in customers’ minds in advance of the service processes. They can be divided into realistic and unrealistic expectations;

Implicit expectations refer to elements of a service which are so obvious to customers that they do not consciously think about them but take them for granted.


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