Do Customers Want Customer Service To Delight Or Simply A Hassle-Free Resolution?

In customer service, we talk about “delighting” customers, providing an experience that is personalized to an individual's preferences and needs. The quest to delight goal is the goal of CRM and one-to-one marketing strategies. It is not easy to achieve and can have compelling results for a business.

But it makes me wonder — do your customers want to be delighted in customer service, or do they just want a hassle-free resolution?

Recently, my suitcase handle broke. I pride myself on my Ryan Bingham-like airport efficiency. Struggling with the broken handle forced me to slow every queue from security to boarding in a recurring tug-of-war with an uncooperative roller bag.

I contacted the company on the telephone and had a strikingly unmemorable conversation with the only meaningful takeaway being that I needed to go to the Web site to complete a warranty form. The form did not offer me the option to print before submitting nor send an acknowledgement email, raising my suspicions that this could require following up.

I was mistaken. A mere eight days later, a new suitcase arrived at my door.

It would have been nice if there was a note accompanying the new roller bag:  something to acknowledge my inconvenience, to express regret that the product didn’t perform, to at least address me by name. I didn’t receive any of these — just an anonymous box containing a new suitcase. And I was delighted.

I wondered about the reverse situation. Had I enjoyed a charming telephone customer service conversation, a feature-filled online experience, an apologetic personal note in the new bag, but was required to wait 4 – 6 weeks for the new suitcase, would I have been as delighted? The answer is probably not. I would have had a better perception of the brand. And I may have recounted the positive experience to friends or family. The company did not win these benefits. But they solved my problem quickly. And I was delighted.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts: Has poor customer service has lowered the delight threshold? Are our expectations of poor service so high that it is simply delightful to receive hassle-free resolution?

~Diane

Comments

Regrettably, I believe you

Regrettably, I believe you are correct, in the name of efficiency and data processing, we are foregoing qualitative, creative engagements that simply make life nicer.

We've come to expect that "quick" and minimized engagement equals success. If I can check in at the airport more quickly by machine (and change my seat myself), why do I want to talk to someone? Fast, efficient machines earn our respect and trust.

But, something is being lost here as all of our interactions becomes dehumanized (social media being a huge culprit in disconnect people).

The emerging quest to "make machines friendlier" and to delight customers (thinking of the ATM machines in Spain that are doing this; and some vending machines) may be some hybrid form of efficiency and delight, delivered by machines, not people, after people lose their social skills and ability to delight one another, in their quest for efficiency?

Thanks for your comments Bob.

Thanks for your comments Bob. It is an interesting shift that, as you said, minimized engagement equals success. I suspect part of the culprit is that many companies get distracted and don't focus on the effort required for resolution. This is a topic I will be exploring in research over the coming months.

Failure To Make Me Feel Valued

Diane you have touched on a question that is key in our training program, thepowerserve ™.

A first response might be a resounding “Yes!” followed by a litany of experiences to justify the expectation. But just as there is a negative component in your recap of this experience there is a similar edge in everyone’s “Well, they fixed it” scenario - and the edge is “failure to make me feel valued.”

It’s not that our expectations are so low, it’s just that given the priorities in each of our lives we’ve learned to manage expectations when it comes to being a consumer. We just stash our little stories into our mind-file under “Open for Tenders”; when the company with the same product and supporting services (which is almost everyone these days) comes along with the smarts to make me feel like a valued person, I will leap at the opportunity to become their customer. This company will now reside in my “Loyal To” file.

That’s how we deal with unanswered expectations and take revenge on the inept companies who think that sending a new suitcase without even referring to the incident will somehow make us feel special.

Nothing pricey - a personalized sticky note with a comment from someone along the process who knows thepowerserve ™ would have sufficed. Something like: “Sorry we caused you a hassle, Ms. Clarkson! Happy travels ahead! Bill, Head Shipper.

And your blog would have had a different title.