Posted by Matthew Vallance
Customer service journals and analysts are often full of advice on how companies should focus on delighting their customers. This conventional wisdom on a corporate approach to service seems to make sense – why would you not want to delight your customer with every interaction? But is this really the right approach?
Forrester analyst Kate Leggett recently blogged her view that the focus should not be on delighting every customer, but on being effective and meeting the expectation of the customer every time. Leggett backs up her observation with some research suggesting that, in the USA, 77% of customers believe the most important thing any company can do is respect their time.
This is important to remember. Most customers are not all that concerned about the music played as they wait or the exact words used as a greeting. What they want is quick service that respects the fact that they are making a call or sending an email that they probably don’t want to be sending. If the customer contact can be dealt with rapidly and efficiently in a way that resolves the customer query then most customers will be satisfied.
Getting it right first time is the answer and this means that the agents on the front line need a degree of autonomy to handle most of the problems they might encounter.
There are many examples of brands that aim to ‘delight’ their customers. They make for great news stories when journalists are listing the top ten customer service encounters. I just went to Google now to see what I could find and without much effort I read about a hotel giving away a clock radio to a customer who loved the one in her room, a toy manufacturer sending a missing part to a child who lost theirs, and a supermarket delivering food for free to an elderly man when it’s not a service they usually offer to customers.
All these stories are great. It’s always fantastic to read about a customer service team that goes far beyond what is expected of them and in the process of doing so, creating delight in the customer. But these stories are just the tip of a very large iceberg. There are millions of customer service interactions taking place each day so it would be practically impossible to spread delight so thinly.
As Kate Leggett suggests, if every one of your customers leaves an interaction with your customer service team with a satisfied smile on their face then that is success – and the beginning of future loyalty from those customers who know they always get what they need from your team.