“Nobody raves about average.” – Bill Quiseng
There is no dearth of information, no paucity of technology and as for companies, they are everywhere. Customers just love the attention they are getting and so obviously are increasingly demanding experiences that would be the difference between satisfaction and delight. Merely satisfying customers is no longer a deal maker since that is something they can get anywhere. They must be able to remember in a way that makes them come back with business and also bring their friends with them and that happens when you delight the customer.
In the realm of customer service between customer satisfaction and delight, the concept of charming the customer gets more attention and companies are moving towards it. Training programs and coaching are being held regularly to sensitize all in a company towards customer delight. Experts in the field of customer service emphasize on the fact that if customers are not delighted each time it is considered to be a service lapse. There are endless tales of how companies have aimed to charm and please the customer with astounding results. There is a legendary story of a company that gave a customer a full refund on his car tyres despite the fact that the company was not in the business of selling tyres and despite the confusion in the mind of the customer, all they wanted was to please him.
On the flip side there are some very effective arguments that do not support wanting to delight every customer. In the story mentioned above even though the company maybe large they would go bankrupt if they kept refunding people money for stuff they don’t even sell. One customer’s delight is cause for another’s irritation and also something that delights a customer once may not necessarily continue to charm given the ever changing expectations of customers. Based on both arguments mentioned here, it is worth questioning whether it is absolutely necessary to delight the customer each time or is acceptable for companies to maintain a customer service level that amounts to customer satisfaction. The answer is probably in the middle somewhere – customer satisfaction and delight exist in congruence.
So how are, customer satisfaction and delight defined? Based on the customer’s perception and expectations of service levels and the experiences they have with a company defines these. A customer is satisfied when their expectations meet their expectation levels but is delighted and wowed when a company exceeds those expectations and serves them in a way that they never thought possible. Of course, poor customer service is about failing to even meet those expectations. The fact in customer service is that customers only speak about service that differs from their expectations. Hence they would rave about the wow experience and rant about the service failure. The fact of the matter is that now customers have come to expect satisfactory levels of service and so they hardly notice unless something changes dramatically like delight or service lapse. These are things that will make them remember and talk.
Customer satisfaction and delight both are needed. If a customer is continually receiving service that is meeting their demands they remain satisfied however if there is even one instance of delightful service, the customer’s perception is most definitely influenced by this one instance. The fact is that these moments and opportunities of delight and wow don’t happen frequently, so when they do customers sit up and take notice. However, creating such wow moments all the time is not necessary and in fact will not remain standout if they happen all the time. What distinguishes them is that the happen suddenly and leave a lasting impression. Providing for customer satisfaction almost all the time works well and producing one or two delighting situations at the most opportune time is quite sufficient to make a company stand out. The other advantage of having both customer satisfaction and delight is that an occasional service lapse is overlooked by customers and they are more than willing to remain with the company. The reason being that they would be biased towards the company based on regular good service and a few instances of wow service that serve as proof that the company is great and are committed towards serving their customers well.
In normal circumstances the relationship between customer and company remain cordial and comfortable. However, given the human factor and technology failures, there are times when service lapses will occur. Even if these are few, companies must use them as opportunities to turn the unpleasant experience to one that will make the customer go ‘wow’. If a company ignores the lapse and fails to set it right, this failure could get magnified and lead the customer to rethink about their perception of the company. They will dwell on it and if something similar happens, will form a perception of the company as one that has low customer service levels and filter information they receive from others to match this perception. This is how companies lose customers.
Delighting customers and creating memorable experiences can be compared to a moving target – the kind found in professional shooting ranges. The fact is, while satisfying customers is good, research reveals that delighted ones are five times more likely to provide repeat business. Delighted customers also prove to be loyal and will spend at least two-thirds more than others while remaining 10 times less costly. So while we have seen that it may not always be able to delight customers, increasing the number of these instances will help.
– Make each customer feel special – like they are the only customer you have. Practice the art of personalizing your service. With technology and new software flooding the market, products and services can be organized and presented to suit individual customer needs and requirements. It is even possible to ask customers to come up with a design that best suits them. For example: customers can choose a haircut or a spectacle frame that suits their face online before actually getting the haircut or buying the frames. This puts the control in the hands of the customer and makes them feel like the star of their show. Another company delights customers by sending over to their homes the outfit or shoes they select online. Customers can try them on and if they are not satisfied with how they look, the products can be returned with a full refund or option to select another item. Personalization delights customers. Simple. With the kind of information and data available on customers it is becoming easier to understand the preferences and tastes of customers. By combining your experience with this information a company can provide a personal touch to every interaction they have with customers leading to wow experiences.
– Make every interaction and customer experience smooth and practically effortless for them. Your products and technology must be easy to use and transparent enough that the customer is able to focus only on what their end need is – a funky new haircut, or a jazzy spectacle frame or a jaw-dropping outfit. Customers don’t like waiting or repeating themselves as this constitutes too much trouble and effort. They want instant results and with the current technology they know this is possible so why would they settle for less. It’s the job of the companies to provide the most appropriate service and products to their customers if they aim to delight their customers.
– Have you ever complained about being treated like a star or royalty by a company? Never right. Great products and offerings must be complemented by stellar customer service for customers to feel like they are being given red carpet treatment. In any case, improving customer service must be an on-going and relentless pursuit for any company. Incremental increases in service often are the difference between customer satisfaction and delight.
Maintain a steady level of customer service since that’s now a given and practice surprising and delighting your customers with something extra that is of value to them. The results will benefit your company long term and enhance its repute and bottom-line.