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BLOGClosing the Expectations Gap

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, ManagementTagged as: ,

Expectations matter.  I recently had the pleasure of spending time in Houston, Texas. The people were friendly, the weather was great, and the event was a success. I stayed in one of the nicer hotels, The Westin, which was convenient, but also because of a great prior experience there. They gave me one of the nicer rooms near the top of the building, away from the noisy elevators and ice machine.

Unfortunately, sleep was impossible because of a loud party (complete with DJ) in the suite directly above mine. When I called the front desk to complain, their response was that they had “contracted” for the suite, and the music should end sometime soon. I pointed out that I had “contracted” for peace and quiet, and that I certainly wasn’t getting any.

This anecdote is a perfect example of a gap between performance and expectation. This same gap appears all of the time: between employee and employer, between vendor and customer, and even between a website and its users. When the gap is narrowed, service quality increases and relationships become stronger.

Whenever there is an interaction, each person brings along their own assumptions. It isn’t rocket science, but so much of the gap can be closed merely by validating these assumptions, and setting proper expectations. This can be done either contractually or through informal meetings. The rest of the gap is closed by executing flawlessly. (If execution gaps occur too frequently, look to solve the problem by examining the execution process itself, then looking at the process training.)


The next time you are meeting a prospect or client, spend some time validating their assumptions first.

Postscript: To their credit, the Westin eventually offered to comp one of my nights for me. It didn’t make me less sleepy, but it did reduce the sting a bit.

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