Can technology create customer delight?

Bob Thompson at CustomerThink posed this question at his blog, asking 18 Customer Experience leaders (including yours truly) to comment on the topic.  It’s an interesting read.

My response was off-the-cuff, and less formal than a typical post:

Wow – that is a tough one. I agree with your research – it’s interactions with humans that create the greatest delight (or, for that matter, frustration!). Where technology seems to make the greatest impact is when it enables or improves the person-to-person relationship.

I’m “thinking out loud,” but it seems that most effective technology implementations either improve a human being’s access to data (e.g., a really good system at a hotel), or allows a transaction to occur more quickly by avoiding a person (self-service systems). There are some obvious exceptions, like Amazon, but most of those have been written to death.

Loyalty programs were considered a great example of this in their earlier days. But we’re starting to see that loyalty programs don’t build emotional loyalty – they just trap a consumer. In my interviews, consulting, etc., it always comes down to the human element. So I’m not sure that I’m a lot of help in what you’re hoping to accomplish!

I guess my POV is that technology allows your transactions to occur more easily and quickly for customers. This in itself does not enable delight, except that it frees up your staff to focus on the higher-leverage points, which does create delight.

In general, there seemed to be two paths of responses.  More service-oriented bloggers (such as Annette Franz Gleneicki, Bruce Tempkin and myself) focused on the ability of technology to enable delight – but primarily when partnered with a human being.  Others (such as Chip Bell and Leigh Durst) focused on products that delight through technology.

What are your thoughts?  What is the role of technology?  You can see the entire post here.

2 replies
  1. Avatar
    Donna Drehmann says:

    I have a simple viewpoint on how technology can impact the Customer Experience.
    If technology can be used in concert with an agent or website to make the interaction ‘smarter’ (knowing who is calling, ordering history, preferences, tenure, etc) then technology can positively impact the Customer Experience.
    Just being efficient through technology is not enough.

    Reply
    • Jim Tincher
      Jim Tincher says:

      Donna,

      Yes! I agree 100%. While my next post will feature a technology with which Walgreen’s has earned my loyalty, the biggest impact technology can have is in augmenting the human experience, in exactly the manner you reference. Technology is at its best when it removes customer barriers and improves the ability of the customer-facing employees.

      Reply

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