Is It Time to Stop "Delighting" Your Customers?

When I recently received the latest issue of the Hahvuhd Business Review (please pronounce Harvard like John Kenneth Galbraith), my eyes immediately darted to an article titled, "Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers," written by three colleagues from The Executive Board.

The premise of the article, based on considerable research, is that exceeding customer expectations "during service interactions...makes customers only marginally more loyal than simply meeting their needs." In fact, the writers assert that customers are typically more willing to punish companies because of bad service than reward them for good service. In other words, companies would be more well-served to limit the downside of the customer experience than focus on providing Four Seasons-like treatment. Clearly, they didn't survey me, as I LOVE The Four Seasons. But I digress.

The ultimate 'take-away' from this article is that companies would be best served by making it as easy as possible for their customers to interact with them and as often as possible, resolve their issues in ONE communication process, versus inevitably forcing customers to first go to the Website, followed by calling the contact center--perhaps multiple times. Oracle works with organizations in many industries that aspire to deliver this level of service. For example, in the Communications sector the age-old term for this business process is "one and done" service.

Case in point, the first of five suggestions offered in this article is to not just resolve current customer issues but to head off subsequent ones. Another key recommendation is to train contact center reps to tune into "the emotional side of customer interactions." This is arguably one of those "doesn't have as much to do with technology issues" as it does in conveying basic empathy.

Rather than summarize the rest of the article (I never was much at writing book reports), let me heartily suggest you invest in it yourself. Beyond the irreverent title is plenty of sage counsel.

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