Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times

Issue
80

The Treadmill of Customer Delight

In This Issue


The Treadmill of Customer Delight

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.

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. 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.


Compliance and Customer Opinions

Compliance and customer opinions often get lumped together when trying to measure the customer experience, since they are both generally related to the quality of the experience.

This is a mistake because even though compliance and customer opinions are related, they are looking at different elements of the customer experience, and require different tools to measure. Many programs go astray when they try to measure customer opinions using techniques for compliance, and vice-versa.

Compliance relates to what actually happened during a customer experience: were the necessary steps followed, did the employee's actions conform to the requirements of the job, and so forth. Compliance items are usually based on objective reality.

Customer opinions are more typically related to the desired outcomes: was the customer's problem solved, was the customer satisfied, did the customer feel like it took too much effort, etc. Customer opinions live inside the customer's head, and generally can't be measured without getting direct feedback from the customer.

For example, if you want to track whether a customer service representative uses the customer's name on a call (an objective compliance-related question), it's a mistake to use a customer survey for that purpose. Likewise, if you want to measure whether customers think the wait on hold is too long (a matter of opinion), you need to actually ask customers for their feedback rather than assuming a certain length of time is OK for everyone.

To help make the right decision about how to measure different parts of the customer experience, here's a quick-reference guide:

Customer Opinion Compliance
  • Related to customer's perception of the experience
  • Related to the specific events which took place during the customer experience
  • Drives business outcomes
  • Drives customer opinion
  • Measure using direct feedback from the customer:
    • Customer surveys
    • Complaints
    • Social media
  • Measure using objective records of what happened during the customer experience:
    • Call recordings
    • Video surveillance
    • CRM entries
    • Mystery shopping
    • Analytics
  • Example metrics:
    • Net promoter
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Problem resolution
    • Customer effort
  • Example metrics:
    • Customer was promptly greeted
    • Customer was given correct information
    • Salesperson provided all required disclosures
    • CSR used customer's name

It's tempting to ask whether customer opinions or compliance is more important. I believe it's important to track both, since otherwise you're only getting one side of the story.

But even more important is to recognize whether a given metric is related to compliance or opinion, and track it using the right tool for the job.

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