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How To Exceed Customer Expectations

In the 1960’s, the economist Philip Kotler changed the perception of marketing. He described what marketing is rather than what marketers do, thereby changing marketing from a departmental specialization into a corporate wide doctrine.

For Kotler, marketing was a ‘social process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others‘.

Customers will choose a product based on their perceived value of it. Satisfaction is the degree to which the actual use of a product matches the perceived value at the time of the purchase. A customer is satisfied only if the actual value is the same or exceeds the perceived value. Kotler defined five levels to a product:


1. Core Benefit

The fundamental need or want that consumers satisfy by consuming the product or service.

For example, a warm coat will protect you from the cold and the rain.

2. Generic Product

A version of the product containing only those attributes or characteristics absolutely necessary for it to function.

For a warm coat this is about fit, material, rain repellent ability, high-quality fasteners, etc.

3. Expected Product

The set of attributes or characteristics that buyers normally expect and agree to when they purchase a product.

That coat should be really warm and protect from the weather and the wind and be comfortable when riding a bicycle.

4. Augmented Product

Inclusion of additional features, benefits, attributes or related services that serve to differentiate the product from its competitors.

And this particularly involves brand identity and image. Is that warm coat in style, its color trendy and made by a well-known fashion brand? But also factors like service, warranty and good value for money play a major role in this.

5. Potential Product

All the augmentations and transformations a product might undergo in the future.

For example, a warm coat that is made of a fabric that is as thin as paper and therefore light as a feather that allows rain to automatically slide down.

Kotler’s model provides a tool to assess how the organization and their customers view their relationship and which aspects create value.

Some service companies offer bonus if their customer care representative left the customer on hold for more than 3 minutes.

And some PC companies provide customer support service for their products and to exceed the customer expectations, they offer 3 month extension in device warranty if their call is not answered after the third ring.

Imagine a case of Gas Station, what are the Generic, Expected, Augmented, and Potential services offered for a customer whose need is to fill up his car’s tank with Gas?

Tips and Tricks

  • Review your service circles every 90 days as time will make your outer circles expected and this will keep you asking what is new? What is next?
  • This concept is exciting for the customer because you are giving him reasons to do business with you.
  • It is also exciting for employees, because it encourages them to go above and be on call of duty and exceed expectations.
  • Remember that, if there is no perception of the value, then the customer will opt for price only.