The proverbial customer journey begins with ‘awareness’. These days awareness often starts digitally. Organisations spend considerable time, effort, and money driving traffic to their spot on the internet. The truth is website visitors immediately start forming opinions. Expectations are being set. For better or worse.

Websites are how organisations present themselves to the world. Much like a shopfront in a traditional brick and mortar store.

Let’s take this analogy a little further…


Websites…A Digital Shopfront

Businesses design shop displays to entice a passer-by into the store with the hope of them becoming a customer. Visual Merchandising switch-ups keep things fresh, attracting both new and returning customers. Think about the information a person could obtain before they stepped over the threshold. A shiny open sign welcomes would-be customers. A shopper can find out opening times and acceptable payment methods. And who can resist a sign that reads ‘New Stock’, ‘Sale’, ‘End of Season Discounts’?

Yes, a well-maintained physical shopfront requires regular consideration, alterations, and effort. The same should be true of an organisation’s website.

Admittedly, this will take a more intentional approach. A physical shop owner would see and walk past their shopfront daily. The need for tweaks or complete overhauls would be obvious.

How often should an online business owner check their website? It’s easy to think of website creation as a once and done task to tick off the ‘How to set up a business’ to-do list. But a website that contributes to a successful customer experience needs consistent attention.

The expectations your customer has, are intrinsically linked to the information they glean from a visit to your website. Consider this blog as your gentle nudge to audit your website. And once you’re done, build time into your schedule to review it regularly.  And very importantly, your staff should know the content of your website well.

When building or updating your website, of course, you should think about navigation, user experience, graphics, and the rest. But when it comes to setting customer expectations, the key is to ensure that all the information presented is accurate. Misinformation or unrealistic claims sets you up for providing a disappointing customer experience.


A Cautionary Tale…

By way of an example, let me share one of my recent experiences. On a special occasion, I arranged for a troop of my friends and our kids to meet for lunch. There were 26 of us in total. Not only did the restaurant need to cater for our large party, but my two dogs.

After looking at a few restaurant websites, I made my choice. It was there in black and white… “pet friendly.” So, I called. Yes, they could accommodate us all and yes dogs are welcome. Great.

I arrived at the restaurant with my two (tiny) pooches. Hopes of a fun-filled and carefree afternoon soon faded away. A snooty manager sauntered over to tell me that our table was on an indoor balcony section. Dogs are only permitted outside.

What was I to do? My only option was to drive 30 minutes, settle the doggies at home, and drive 30 minutes back to re-join the party.

Now, I know, that being late to a lunch I had arranged is not a devastating, life-altering event. But, let me tell you, I was frustrated and furious.  The food was good and the setting delightful, but none of this mattered. The whole meal was marred by the restaurant failing to live up to one statement on their website. And guess what my first thought would be if the restaurant asked me for a google review…

Can you relate? I am sure most have a similar story of being presented with promises, only to be let down. How did you feel? Disappointed? Underwhelmed? Frustrated? All the above?


Customer Expectations vs Customer Experience


Rather than creating returning customers, broken promises create unhappy customers. A potential brand advocate transforms into a disparaging reviewer.

Simply put, a standard customer or client (from a B2B perspective) experience is when expectations are met. A great customer experience is when expectations are surpassed.

No business or organisation wants to disappoint a customer. Setting the right expectations extends beyond traditional advertising and customer service training.

For your best chance to set appropriate customer expectations, check (and keep refining) your website.

Information should be accurate.

Promises should be delivered.