Aligning customer expectation, prediction with perception for positive Moments of Truth

This is the fourth article that explores customer-centricity in today’s context.  

Customer satisfaction is derived after a customer goes through a thought process in relation to an organisation, product and service.  This thought process includes the customer’s expectation, prediction and perception, which can be described through Moments of Truth(MOT). 

Defining customer expectation, prediction, perception and MOT

Customer expectations are pretrial beliefs about a product and service that serves as standards or reference points against which product and service performance is judged.  Customer prediction is a consumer-defined probability of the occurrence of a positive and negative event if the consumer engages in some behaviour, or as “estimates of anticipated performance level” (Vu, 2015).

Customer perceptions refers to the customers opinions of the organisation, product and service. They summarize how customers feel about a brand including every direct or indirect experience they have had with the organisation.  Opinions are formed in the way that customers select, organize and interpret both information and stimuli related to a brand, its products and services. 

MOT refers to a customer’s journey in micro-moments and encompasses the pre, during and post buying periods and is elaborated in my blog “six moments of truth to create a positive impression of your brand.”

Thought processes and purchase period

Thought processes that cumulatively lead to a satisfaction level, correspond to the 4 stages of the customer’s buying journey.     

To illustrate this – I have not eaten a burger for a while, and craved for, wanted and expected a good beef packed juicy burger. 

In my Zero Moment of Truth(ZMOT) i.e. my pre purchase journey, I surfed my mobile for reviews, and McDonald’s(McD) by far had the best reviews.

It was also during my ZMOT that I thought and predicted, McD’s burgers may not be that juicy, over this pandemic period despite the brilliant reviews.

Despite this prediction, I trotted down to the corner McD restaurant.  There was a queue and as I social distanced in line, I watched the crew members flip their burgers and toast buns etc.  The aroma and the sights were mouth watering, the restaurant was clean and brightly lit.  Again I thought and predicted that the burgers were juicy, with my positive First Moment of Truth(FMOT) in that atmosphere before ordering.  The cashier caught my eye as I rolled to the front.  With a big smile she cried out, “Welcome to McD, may I take your order?” By this time, I was ‘sold’ to the McD experience and could not wait to have my burger.

I placed my order for a Big MacTM Super Value meal.  My McD cashier repeated my order and informed me of the total cost, I paid, and with a broad smile she thanked me. 

As she turned away to ready my order, I  was swept up with the atmosphere and energy again.  I continued watching crew members flip burgers, place cheese on top and with another squeezing out the sundae into a cup and drooled it over with melted chocolate.  The conveyor belt was filled with all types of orders eg. Filet O’Fish, McChicken, Quarter Pounders, McChicken etc.  The sounds, sights and the smell of frying burgers, fries etc filled the air.  My senses were piqued with this Actual Moment of Truth(AMOT) after I placed my order, and it built-up to my consumption.

“Your order Maam, Big MacTM Super Value -1 Big Mac, 1 large fries and 1 large Coke.  Thank you and come again”, said the smiling cashier as she handed me my receipt.  I enthusiastically picked up my packed meal, social distanced, and sat down at an empty table.  By this time, I was salivating as I fished out and opened my Big Mac.  As I eagerly took my 1st bite I thought, “Omg!  It tastes sssooooo…good.”  What a fulfilling Second Moment of Truth!

Auto comparison between expectation, prediction and perceived experience

It was at this instantaneous moment that a comparison occurred between my expectation, prediction and perceived experience.  There were no gaps and my perception was positively enhanced with the build-up during my AMOT, after paying and while waiting for my order.  My perceived experience was beyond expectation, and the reviews from my pre purchase period and ZMOT compounded it all.

Now, let us back trace to my SMOT where my reaction upon my first bite was, “eewww it tastes sssoooo like cardboard!”  Immediately in this instance, a big gap occurred between my expectation and my bad perceived experience. 

A second comparison would occur during my AMOT with the build up of aroma, sights and sounds which alluded to a juicy burger.  What a mismatch!

The third comparison would occur between my prediction and perceived experience, “I knew it…it was going to taste like cardboard!”  The dissatisfaction was evident despite the fact that I had predicted in my ZMOT that it was not going to turn out as expected. 

Aligning expectation, prediction & perceived experience with MOT

My feedback and the Ultimate Moment of Truth on burger reviews could be far reaching and impactful on a brand, in either scenario.  However, given the right match between expectation, prediction, perceived experiences and the positive alignment with each MOT, I could well turn into a brand ambassador.

References

  • Hubspot.  (2021).  Customer perception: What it is, why it’s important, and how to improve it.  Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/service/improve-customer-perception
  • Vu, V. T.  (2015).  Determinants of customer expectations of service: implications for fostering customer satisfaction.  International Journal of Management and Applied Science, 1, 4, 146-151.  Retrieved March 1, 2019 from http://www.worldresearchlibrary.org/up_proc/pdf/18-14271927587-12.pdf

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