I was traveling in Europe last week and had the opportunity to experience multiple airlines and classes of service, which got me thinking about the expectations one has from various levels of service.
On one European airline, the first class, business class and coach sections on the aircraft had the exact same seats and amount of legroom. I had a colleague question why he had paid more for his seat in business class than I did for my own in coach since there was no significant difference in service. (Full disclosure: I think he got a free meal and I had to pay for my Coke, but since when is a piece of fish and a soda worth hundreds of dollars?)
I was willing to accept the cramped seat and 3€ coke because my expectations were set at the coach level. He was less happy because his expectations were much higher.
Many cloud service providers only offer one level of service, something like 99.995% uptime, to all customers, regardless of whether that level is demanded by their full client base. Could they be losing the "coach" clients because the service is prohibitively expensive? And could their premium offering be even more under scrutiny for outages and service level penalties because of the promised level of service?
It would be interesting to see an ROI analysis of providers offering reduced levels of service to a broader customer base. Obviously airlines do this, and are apparently reaping benefits in both revenues when all classes of seats are full and in customer satisfaction when people get what they expect.
Because consumers are so much more savvy in every experience, using online reviews, ratings applications and social media to communicate with one another on expectations when it comes to air travel, restaurants and other service providers in personal life, it is only natural that they would also want hard data on IT and business services to make better choices.
The tools exist now for customers to measure service levels provided to them, without waiting for some "uptime" report that has been tooled to prevent payment of penalties. It behooves service providers to get ready for this new generation of customers, who want what they paid for.