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Exceed customer expectations to avoid cognitive dissonance and decreased loyalty

There are two things you should do to exceed a customer's expectations, say Peppers and Rogers in this expert tip.

I believe that customer loyalty decreases when there is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is caused by problems in the after-sale that are not taken care of in a correct way by the manufacturers. Do you agree with this view? If yes, what do you think are the specific factors that determine whether a customer will remain loyal?
Strictly speaking, cognitive dissonance occurs when your experience doesn't match your expectations. When you buy a new product you expect it to work properly. When it doesn't, you suffer cognitive dissonance. Even if the product works flawlessly, if the company's after-sale service seems poor to you, you will be disappointed. Moreover, the better the product is, the more disappointed you are likely to be by poor service!

There are two things you should do to exceed a customer's expectations: Improve the quality of your product and service, and be sure that the customer's expectations aren't built up so far in the first place. If your advertising trumpets the quality of your service or follow-up, for instance, then you might attract more new customers with the message, but you'll also have to work harder to ensure that their expectations are met or exceeded.

Customers remain loyal for many different reasons, however, not just the quality of the product. They will be more likely to remain loyal if they think your offering is better than they can get from a competitive supplier. They will be more likely to remain loyal if they have invested in any kind of relationship with you -- a relationship that may be difficult or time-consuming for them to re-create with a competitor, even if the competitor has comparable quality.

Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a SearchCRM.com monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.

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