Services marketing theory teaches us that customer satisfaction can be seen as the product of the interaction between the expectations customers have on a service and the experience of the service received. As long as the expectations resemble the experience, satisfaction increases.
Experience – Expectations = Satisfaction
This equation could be extrapolated to the electoral field if we consider that the same two forces, expectations and experience, move voters’ satisfaction with the results. In this case, expectations are generated by polls produced during the months previous to the election and by the political treatment that could be given to said surveys. On the other side, experience is the product of objective aspects such as, for example, those concerning the voting system (technology used, votes counted, sum of the minutes, etc.) and subjective aspects like the credibility of those managing the process.
To take these considerations into real life, let’s see what’s happening in Venezuela on occasion of the upcoming presidential elections to be held on October 7th, in which Henrique Capriles Radonski (HCR) and the current president, Hugo Chávez Frías (HCF), are the main actors. A study published recently by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which gathers the statistics of seven renowned pollsters in Venezuela, reveals five of them HCF having a two-digit advantage over his contender. The other two show a difference between the candidates lower than the error margin, which is considered a dead heat. Another aspect worth highlighting about this analysis is that there is an enormous difference between each of the pollsters regarding the number of people that don’t answer or that don’t manifest any preference.
Based on these figures, plus the historic performance of the pollsters, the analysis of the American banking institution gives a 15.9% advantage to HCF. In spite of this important difference, it leaves open possibilities for both candidates. Anyway, there is a lot of discrepancy between the pollsters, and this can generate false expectations leading to low satisfaction.
Regarding the service experience that Venezuelans will have, it is worth mentioning that the automated electoral system used in Venezuela has been audited by all of the political actors and is endorsed by the most prominent international observers.
Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States and founder of the Carter Center, recently stated that the Venezuelan system is “the best electoral system in the world.” Therefore, in terms of the objective conditions of the expectations, there is little to be discussed.
In a nutshell, in the interest of the political strengthening of one of the oldest democracies in the continent, we hope that the entities that generate expectations, as well as those who condition the experience, understand the importance they have over electoral transparency.