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For a long time, Metro North  lied about their ontime record. According to their policies, a train was “on time” if it got in less than six minutes late. For a harried New Yorker, six minutes is a lot, especially on a 25 minute ride.

So Metro North bragged about their ontime record and it didn’t jibe with user expectations. So consumer happiness was quite low.

What did Metro North do? Did they work hard to train engineers and upgrade machinery to make the trains run on time? Nope. They chose an effective marketing tactic instead: they changed the schedule.

By adding a few minutes to every ride (on the schedule) they are telling a very different story, setting different expectations. People aren’t going to avoid the train because now the schedule says it’s going to get in three minutes later, but they are going to smile more when the train gets there when they expected it was going to get there.