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Raising expectations only to kill them...

Have you noticed how upbeat the ads for airlines and banks are?

Seth Godin points out that judging from the TV and newspaper ads, you might be led to believe that Delta is actually a better airline, one that cares. Or that your bank has flexible people eager to bend the rules to help you succeed.

At one level, this is good advertising, because it tells a story that resonates. We want Delta to be the airline it says it is, and so we give them a try.

The problem is this: ads like this actually decrease user satisfaction. If the ad leads to expect one thing and we don't get it, we're more disappointed than if we had gone in with no real expectations at all.

Why this matters: if word of mouth is the real advertising, then what you've done is use old-school ad techniques to actually undercut any chance you have to generate new-school results.

So much better to invest that same money in delighting and embracing the customers you already have. Then amplify these and use some solid PR to increase the exposure to testimonials and case studies... oh, and suddenly you have a snowball effect - happy customers, more PR, happier customers, better PR...

Maybe customer service and PR departments should be better aligned...