Every consumption story has two sides... quality and emotional

Nowadays it is very hard to split the concept of quality from the emotional reactions upon the consumption of any product or service, since they are both part of the same customer - supplier relationship.

Quality is mostly thought as the technical  standards compliance of the product or service that is being consumed (let's keep in mind that in many cases the buyer is different from the user); but in many ways quality is also as subjective as the emotions around the experience.

¿Why do I say this? Let's imagine a service such as an airline ticket for vacation.  When travelers quote the ticket, it is very likely that they will make a choice taking into account the lowest fare and comparing it against the services or additional facilities provided by the company.  Then, based on their budget they will decide with airline to travel with (it can be a low cost or legacy carrier).  It is very unlikely that people will go deep into the task of checking the international quality or technical certifications of the airline.  

There are many airlines with excellent technical records, which will ensure a "safer" flight, but most buyers will make a choice based on their expectation of service quality, which is a very important part of the experience as well, but it doesn't jeopardize your safety as other neglects would do.  Most of the time, a customer will check only on one aspect of quality, the subjective one, giving for granted or leaving the technical aspects for the company to be accomplished as a natural part of their business... I don't want to be gloomy, but, ¿have you ever wondered how thoroughly do your last airline they really checked on the safety procedures? After all, technical quality implies lots of investment and can be very expensive.

At the end of their trip, travelers will rate their experience and the corresponding satisfaction according to the services received during the flight.  They would hardly check other technical aspects of the flight (unless off course, something goes technically really wrong).

But this doesn't happen only on airlines.  On many other industries (restaurants, hotels, etc) technical quality is mostly overlooked or taken for granted by customers, and "quality" is defined by each user as the fulfillment of their own expectations as an equation of cost versus benefit (or ROI) on the "perceivable" side of the experience.  

A truly customer-focused and responsible company (and there are a lot of great examples) will guarantee that those hidden quality aspects are always taken care of, but they are not usually part of the decision-making factors.  Customer experiences professionals must ensure to know the emotional side of the transaction, making sure that, even executing and complying all the technical requirements, there is also a positive emotional impact to develop loyalty and earn promoters.

Comments

  1. Hi German, I liked your post and example with airlines, but I don't totally agree with you. I agree that customer expectations play a great role in getting satisfaction from a product or service, but I think that expectations not only connected with emotions, and if you add "service standards" to "technical standards" you will see how it affects the result (I mean customer satisfaction). Because, for example, if people buy airline ticket they in most cases don't check technical standards, but they pay attantion to service standards. Flighing with low-coster they cannot expect being fed during the flight, have monitors for each seats or luggage included, they probably don't like it, but they don't have expectation for it. But if you buy pretty expensive ticket and don't get the service you expect here you get low satisfaction. And this is not about emotions, this is about performance :-)

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    1. Hi German and Olga, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree that expectations are not based solely emotions, but on performance too. Where I would nuance a little is that even if in the case of low cost carriers, where it's understood and accepted that passengers generally do not expect superior experience, there is no emotion at play at all. I feel that the duality of emotion and performance in customer experience would exist all the time, though at differential prominance given the persons, contexts, and customs.

      -AdamH

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    2. Hi Adam, thanks for your comment! I agree that both parts matter, and imprortant question here is how to manage them :-) So if in case of performance is quite clear... but how to manage customer's emotions, I don't have clear picture about it right now... probably we will talk about it later in our course :-)

      Olga Kullander

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  2. Thank you for your post! Using airiine as an example of expecations vs experienced quality is really interesting . Makes me think about my own airline ticket purchasing decisions. Preveious experiences play a part in my expectations. Also if it is a low fare airine my expecations are lower compared to regular airlines. But also my experience is usually more positive when flying a regular airline compared to a low fare airline, and I'm wondering if this is more due to my real experienced quality, or the notion of getting exactly what I paid for? More expensive=better?

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    1. That is the fun part about the idea of this post, and the answer would be... "it depends". If you reach your destination safe and on time, I could probably be stated that regardless using a legacy or a low cost carrier you can say received a quality service, after all, air travel is about that: travelling (getting from A to B). But nowadays there are so many ancillary services being added to the flight experience, that the emotional value and the quality and service perception of it is being somehow enriched to a point where we rate food, smiles, entertainment and even lighting of the cabin as relevant for the experience, but if you dive deep into the core of the reason of your purchase, probably both are fulfilling what they basically promised to do., the difference is on your expectations as traveler.

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