The Best Business Lesson Ever

Perception minus expectations equals satisfaction. I believe the first time I heard this was in reference to Disney World.

Disney's customers would spend hours waiting in line for a 2 minute ride.  They would enter the line really excited about the ride (high expectations).  But at the end, after waiting more for two hours, they felt like it was a waste of time (low perception).

So Disney had two choices:

  1. Improve Perception (create a better ride/create more rides to reduce demand/let fewer people into the park.)  Or...
  2. Lower Expectations (make it very clear upfront what the customer was getting into.)

You've already guessed that Disney went with the second option -- they lowered expectations.

They simply added a sign at the end of the line that would tell each customer approximately how long they would have to wait (I heard that they even added a few minutes to these estimates just to be sure that expectations were really low).

This was a brilliant (and nearly free) solution to a big problem.  The net effect was that satisfaction increased because expectations decreased -- the perception of the ride itself stayed the same.