Ipsos MORI Thinks

Great expectations: Are service expectations really rising?

Nearly every review of service perceptions, satisfaction or loyalty starts with the assumption that providers, both in the private and public sectors, face a world where expectations are inexorably rising. But is this true?

In both the private and public sectors, failure to properly understand customer needs leads to wasted money, time and energy. If customer satisfaction is subjective and influenced by expectations, an optimal customer experience strategy must take expectations into account.

Despite the emphasis placed on expectations in marketing theories, there is remarkably little reliable quantitative data that shed light on how customer expectations have changed over time, and how expectations might leak between market categories. In this report, Ipsos MORI has explored the causes, effects and changing nature of customer service expectations.

The data suggests that expectations have a role to play in understanding the link between the day-to-day of customer experience and overall brand relationships. This report uncovers the subtle but critical impact of customer expectations, and reveals five decisive factors about how service encounters can exceed or fall short of consumers’ expectations in the public and private sectors.

Analysing nine valuable lessons from existing and new research, this report illustrates how any meaningful discussion must be grounded in an understanding of the nature of customer expectations and supported by evidence.

We understand less about expectations than we think we do, and far less than we need to. This research explores the link between customer satisfaction at a particular service interaction and the customer’s relationship with that brand. Expectations are a critical part of this story.

Expectations events presentation