The Customer Service Survey

The Treadmill of Customer Delight

by Peter Leppik on Fri, 2014-06-13 14:58

There is no such thing as a company which provides a consistently exceptional customer experience.

The problem is that customers' expectations are set, in large part, by the experiences they have already had. And so the exceptional experience can quickly become ordinary, and the ordinary experience soon becomes expected. And if you don't deliver the expected experience, the customer is disappointed.

This treadmill of rising customer expectations can seem like futility if your goal is to always delight the customer. But it's impossible to delight the customer every time, because delight requires surprise, and you can't surprise people with the expected level of service.

But the other side of the coin is that customers are reluctant to give up a level of service they have come to expect, and it's better to be the company setting the expectations than to have your competitors decide where the bar is.

For example, before Apple introduced the iPhone no company offered a touchscreen phone without a keyboard. But once the iPhone hit the market, customers' expectations of what a smartphone looked like and could do changed very quickly. This left the other mobile phone makers scrambling to offer a competitive product, and put Apple in the enviable (and profitable) position of being able to stay ahead of the competition for several years just by raising the bar a little bit each year on the iPhone.

Another example is the shipping industry. FedEx and UPS have set customers' expectations that shipping a package delivers a lot more service than just moving a box from point A to point B. Today customers expect to be able to get quotes online, request a same-day pickup, get regular updates on the location of the package, and receive a notification when it's delivered. FedEx and UPS did not have to add these services to their portfolios, but when they did, customers quickly came to expect them. Even the stodgy U.S. Post Office now offers these services.

If you're setting out to deliver a great customer experience your goal should not be to delight your customers.

Instead, you should strive to make your customers come to expect an experience which used to delight them.

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