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Creating Fans


Two competing car dealers came back from a ‘Customer Satisfaction Seminar’, determined to begin delighting their customers. Coincidentally, both decided to offer free car washes after every service to every service department customer.

But there was a difference in their offerings.

The first one promoted the free car washes, while the other did not.

The dealer that promised the free wash with every service received countless complaints about the wash not being up to the customers’ expectations. Complaints about spots being missed, or leaving water spots on windshields left the dealer wondering what he had to do to delight his customers.

The dealer who didn’t advertise the free car washes received numerous thank you letters and appreciative phone calls following his unadvertised free car washes.

He discovered what we call ‘The Value Equation’.

The Value Equation is;

Value =  the Customer Expectation +/-  (plus or minus)
the Customer Experience

The customer experience must always exceed the customer expectation if your customers are to perceive good value. By the way, when you promise to “exceed expectations” in your advertising, you’ve already set the bar so high that you can’t exceed expectations.

The first dealer built an expectation of a free car wash through his advertising that did not match the customer experience if his clean-up crew missed the smallest spot or left water marks on the windshield.

The second dealer, however, could miss one whole side of the customer’s car and they’d still be happy because they unexpectedly got half of their car washed.

Some call our value equation ‘under-promising and over-delivering’. Others call it ‘value added with every sale’. Whatever you call it, you need to surprise and delight your customers to keep them coming back and to have them promote your business by word of mouth and in online reviews. Just doing what you promised is not enough to induce customers to generate more repeat business and valuable word of mouth advertising.