The expectations gap is based on the very simple reality that human beings have expectations about everything and everyone. The number one enemy of any brand—your organization’s brand and your personal brand—is the expectations gap. It is the Bermuda Triangle of life and business. Failure to understand this single concept has killed more brands, relationships, products, teams, careers, and businesses than any other concept.
If you advertise a brand of toothpaste with the promise that it will whiten teeth and it doesn’t do that, you create an expectations gap.
If you tell your spouse you will be home from work tonight at six thirty and you are late, you create an expectations gap, and with every minute after 6:31 that you are not home, the gap widens.
If you promise your direct reports that you will help them map out career paths this year and you don’t make the time to do it, you create an expectations gap.
If you tell a customer you will finish a project by June but don’t finish until September, you have created an expectations gap.
If you tell your daughter you will take her to the zoo on Saturday and you don’t—whether your daughter is five or twenty-five years old—you create an expectations gap.
What is an expectations gap? The space between what people expect to happen and what actually happens. People have expectations about everything and everyone. Everyone in your life has expectations of you, and every customer your organization serves has expectations. The problem is something has to fill the gap. One of five things, or some combination of those five things, always fill expectations gaps: disappointment, resentment, anger, frustration, and loss of trust.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone feeling these five things about me, or about my team, or about any of the products and services offered by the various businesses and organizations I own or am involved with. And I don’t know a single person who does. This is a 100 percent issue. The expectations gap is to be avoided at almost any cost.
—Matthew Kelly, The Culture Solution