Customer delight: It’s a phrase that encapsulates the feeling when a brand exceeds your expectations to the extent that you feel compelled to tell your friends, family and even your social media network all about it.
When Marley Majcher – CEO of event planning company The Party Goddess – spoke to Business News Daily, she described it as doing something “so uncommonly great” as to illicit an out-loud “no way”.
The quest for this reaction has been widely adopted across the CX space, with the majority of organizations (89%) believing that delight will lead to higher loyalty according to CEB. Of course, the challenge is if everyone is doing it, how do you stand out at all?
So, Does Delight Pay?
Craig Nishizaki, Head of Business at the user experience experts, UpTop, conducted an insights session at the latest GDS CX Innovation summit where he proposed this pursuit was a “fool’s errand”.
“It’s based on research,” he said. “According to Gartner and CEB, customer delight only happens 16% of the time, and increases operating costs by 10-20%.”
This begs the question, have CX leaders been chasing rainbows based on a bad case of groupthink?
The main problem for organizations who set ‘delight’ as a CX metric, Nishizaki observes, is the fact that “people have different definitions of what delight means.” Therefore, setting achievable metrics around ‘no way’ responses is almost impossible, especially at scale.
What’s more, after surveying 97,000 customers, Gartner observes a very weak link between delight and loyalty. And CEB found even when delight is achieved, there are ‘marginal impacts’ on customer attrition, despite high costs and effort from customer service teams.
From these findings, Gartner’s Group Vice President Nick Toman compares the loyalty pay- off (or lack thereof) to one’s thought process after enjoying a steak at a nice restaurant; it may have been wonderful, but you would “be sure to try a new steak restaurant when it opens”.
What Drives Customer Loyalty, if Not Delight?
- Playing defense
(i.e. Avoiding negative experiences, rather than striving for positive ones)
Gartner observes a much stronger link between dislike and disloyalty. While delight does little to stop customers from hopping between brands, frustration often results in immediate action.
What’s more, the ‘delight model,’ that claims delighted customers transform into brand advocates, is more traceable in the context of unhappy customers, racing to spread the news of their discontent:
“The data from our study showed that 45% of the people who had something positive to say about a company told fewer than three other people… However, 48% of people who had a negative experience told more than 10 people.”
Therefore, if your customer’s knee-jerk reaction is to penalize bad service, rather than show loyalty to brands who go above-and-beyond, the focus must be directed to what actively drives loyalty.
So, what does?
- Reducing Effort and Friction
Instead of asking “How can we delight?”, Craig Nishizaki’s insights session summoned the GDS summit attendees to ask: “How can we make it easier to do business with us?” Rather than aiming to dazzle the customer, he advised prioritising strategies that curate the ultimate low-effort experience.
What Does Low-Effort Look Like?
When faced with an issue, the ultimate low-effort experience involves contacting a company once, and seeing the issue totally resolved without the need for repeated attempts or follow-ups.
Personalization is critical, where the customer does not feel like a number or a stranger. What’s more, the customer will not be made to feel as though their issue is confusing, their fault, or impossible to solve. And in instances where the customer needs to encounter multiple touchpoints, they will not need to repeat their story.
But CEB’s research unearthed a gap between low-effort utopia, and customers’ current day-to-day experiences. When faced with an issue, 62% of customers said they had to recontact the organization and 56% had to re-explain their problem.
How do we eliminate effort?
According to Nishizaki, customer journey mapping and personas are the critical elements for success. But to keep pace with a ruthlessly changeable landscape, they must remain in constant review:
“Often times, the customer journey maps and personas are “static” artefacts, and really, they need to be living, breathing entities. Now that we’re living in this new stage of normal – with supply chain issues, remote work, and shifts in online purchasing, our journey maps need to be revisited and iterated upon.”
Lighting company, Osram Sylvania proved to be a powerful case study, whereby the organization took action based on the data from their call-centre customer interactions. They discovered a pattern in negative responses was generated from words such as ‘can’t,’ ‘won’t,’ and ‘don’t’. Actioning changes in the language from “We don’t have that item in stock,” to “We’ll have stock availability for that item in two weeks,” decreased their Customer Effort Score from 2.8 to 2.2.
Notwithstanding the innate desire amongst CX pioneers to differentiate their brands based on excellence, this critical research highlights a key priority: to create easy and quick interactions, rather than overly delightful ones.
And while creating delight might sparkle on a marketing campaign, reducing effort is where the real gold lies.
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