Great Expectations: Are service expectations really rising?

Ipsos MORI has combined the findings from existing and new research to explore the link between customer satisfaction at a particular service interaction and the customer’s relationship with that brand.

Great Expectations: Are service expectations really rising?

The author(s)

  • Katherine Shipton Ipsos Loyalty, UK
  • Gideon Skinner Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Bobby Duffy Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
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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.

Technical note

This report reviews existing research from 24 reports and journals, referenced in the full report.

Ipsos Loyalty consumer data is from a survey conducted online among 3,001 adults across the United Kingdom.  All interviews took place between 22nd – 30th August 2016. Survey data is weighted to the known population proportions of UK adults by age, gender and home region.

The author(s)

  • Katherine Shipton Ipsos Loyalty, UK
  • Gideon Skinner Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Bobby Duffy Ipsos Public Affairs, UK