Remember That Talk About Delighting Customers, Forgetaboutit

Finding ways to delight your customers is a continuing challenge.  What delights your customer now is most likely going to be an expectation in the near future. Marketers, including myself, love tackling this type of challenge.  It involves getting to know your customer and applying creativity in developing a solution.

And more often than not, it is a wasted effort.

That is, according to Matthew Dixon, managing director of the Corporate Executive Board’s Sales and Service Practice.  He is the latest to talk on HBR’s IdeaCast and brings up good points around customer satisfaction.  Matthew is coming from a customer service perspective but I think it applies to all parts of the customer experience.  To sum-up Matthew’s main concern,

Customers will punish you harder for failing at the basics than they will reward you for delighting them.

This make complete sense.  You are not going to tell anyone to fly JetBlue because they have comfortable seats and DishTV if they constantly have travel delays and missed connections.  If your phone doesn’t make calls, it doesn’t matter how nice looking it is, you are going to complain about it.

So how do you do this?  I like the NetPromotor philosophy for tracking customer experience.  It starts with the basic question, “How likely is it that you would recommend [product ] to a friend or colleague?”.  From this question, you can track your cumulative customer feedback over time.  If you see your score going down, its time to dig in and figure out what’s going on.

If you are not ready to do a formal NetPromotor program, there are alot other ways to get a gauge of your customer satisfaction – surveys, forums, social media, etc.  Most important is to establish a baseline, even if it is semi-formal, and continue to monitor.

Bottom line, table stakes must be met before you can talk about what’s for dessert.

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