A Brief Introduction To The Experience Gap
When I first learned about the experience gap, I thought it was a pretty simple concept. As I spent more time reflecting on it, I began to discover a much deeper meaning. Intimately understanding the experience gap is key to successful marketing. Understanding the experience and being intentional about keeping it in the positive is the first step in fascinating your audience.
So, what is the experience gap?
The experience gap is the difference between expectation and reality.
These expectations are expectations individuals or businesses set. They exist every day. These expectations are set with the products we use, the services we pay for, the food we eat, the events we attend, and much, much more.
Fact: The gap can be positive, negative, or neutral (no gap).
The 3 Potential Outcomes of the Experience Gap
Neutral Experience Gap
When the experience gap is neutral, it means there was no gap. No gap means the expectations were set very well. It means that the people experiencing the "thing" (services, products, event, etc) experienced exactly what they were expecting. It means there was no disappointing. It means there was no fascinating.
Negative Experience Gap
A negative experience gap is not good. It means the expectation wasn't set properly and the people who experienced the "thing" were disappointed. This is not good.
This is the worst gap of them all. It should be avoided at all costs. It should be thought of with whatever you're doing. Are you setting the expectations too high?
Position Experience Gap
The positive experience gap is the best potential gap you can have. It is when reality exceeds the expectations. I'm not talking about intentionally setting low expectations. I'm talking about making that product, service, event, or side job, you do, simply awesome.
3 Real World Examples of the Experience Gap
The Microsoft Zune - Negative Gap
The Microsoft Zune was the portable media player that came after the iPod. What was interesting here is that outside influences affected the experience gap. For instance, industry changing products that transform culture, such as the iPod, raise the expectation level among consumers. A heightened expectation, thanks to other great competing products, raises the expectation for other products.
It is this very example that forces competition to create better products.
Building Trust - Neutral Gap (No Gap)
Let's say you tell a friend you're going to do something. You deliver and you do exactly as you say, when you say you were going to complete it. There is no gap, it is neutral. If the gap was negative, and you didn't deliver, then trust declines. Trust declines faster than it is built up.
The iPhone - Positive Gap
When the iPhone was first announced in 2007, the world's expectation of a smartphone was low. This is largely in thanks to old phone manufacturers not innovating and simply be "ok" with being "ok". But, Apple came into the competitive environment and redefined the space. The reality of the iPhone was greater than any expectation any previous technology set. A positive has the power to change culture, societies, and everyday life.
In closing, the experience gap is fascinating to me, and I can talk about various analogies all day long. The more aware we are of this gap, the more we can be intentional about creating positive gaps. And let me tell you, it's not hard. I'll talk in future articles on how to create the positive gap.
In the meantime, what do you think about this concept? I'm curious.