As anyone with a parent knows, having them disappointed in you vs. angry with you is just so much worse. Disappointment comes with unfulfilled expectations. Disappointment is the weight of knowing what you could and should have done, and yet you didn't. You let someone down and that's much more hurtful than making them angry. Anger is fleeting but disappointment lingers.
The world has given up
I'll admit to having high expectations — for myself and for others. I have high expectations when it comes to dining, travel, work product, you name it. To me, the true quality of something I experience lies in the effort around it. And I think that's how it should be. Effort is everything.
But lately, it feels like effort is an afterthought, if even a thought at all. That people are going through the motions and doing the bare minimum to create a positive experience.
I get that we just came out of (or still are in) a pandemic.
I get that we're all weary and beat down and just tired.
So very tired.
But there's a difference between being weary and not giving a f&ck. And I've had countless experiences lately that were just, well, disappointing.
Show me you care without telling me
Two weekends ago I went away with my best friends to celebrate our joint 50th birthdays. We went to a destination that wasn't inexpensive. It was quite pricey for something local-ish. And while we ended up having a lovely time, there were so many little things that added up to a disappointing experience. So much so that I had a 30-minute call with their guest experience director this week to download him on everything that didn't live up to what the experience should have been.
I'll admit some of the items were more quibbles than actual issues, but most of them weren't. I won't bore you with the details, but at the end of the call, he even admitted that all these small things take away from the experience. And all of them could have and should have been avoided through simple effort and communication.
If any of you have flown recently, you'll know that airlines are the number one offender of this lately. Canceling flights for no reason and with no notice or rebooking. Having 5-hour wait times to speak to someone on the phone. It's unacceptable. But they don't care. And this is what makes me sad. Whether it's a poor restaurant or hotel experience, or a global airline, all of these businesses are in the same business: hospitality and customer service. And they're all failing epically.
Here's some rope
I'm happy to cut someone a little slack. But with that comes an expectation as well. I'll allow you to be slower to take my order or deliver my food, but you need to communicate to me the delay. You need to treat me like a human being and a customer and understand that at the end of the day, all I want, all anyone wants, is to be seen, included and communicated to. If things are going sideways but you get me on your side, you've won. I'll be as patient as anyone.
But pretend like everything's fine and ignore what's happening and think I'm going to just sit idly by and be ok with it? Hell no.
This is why having a clear brand identity, message and values matters. But moreover, sticking to them and remembering that you have these to serve your audience.
These are the standard bearers by which you live.
These are the things that drive loyalty.
That drive understanding and forgiveness.
That you have at your disposal to make it easy to communicate to your audience.
I'll be the first person to tell a client I'm a bit behind, or I need more time. I always want them to know how progress is or isn't going. And nine times out of 10, they're fine with a delay or a misstep.
Because I've included them.
I've built that good will.
At the end of the day, we all just want to know what's going on. Most people's poor experiences lie in being kept out of the loop. So when you can include them and treat them like they matter and they deserve to know, that's the true meaning of effort. And no one can be angry or disappointed with that.
Do you have a disappointment story? I'd love to hear it.