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Guest Post: Keep Trying to Delight Your Customers

Today we have a special treat, with a guest post by Bob Thompson, author of the new book Hooked on Customers.

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If you go to a bank to use the ATM and it doesn’t work, you’ll be unhappy and more likely to switch banks if it keeps occurring. Is it worth trying to delight customer when they just want to withdraw cash and be on their way? Probably not. ATMs are viewed as a basic need, with little opportunity to delight, only to disappoint if they don’t work.

In the 2010 Harvard Business Review article “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” authors from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) argue that consumers are more inclined to punish bad service than to reward delightful service. Therefore, companies should focus on delivering the basics, which is more likely to drive loyalty.

The title of the article is provocative and the authors make a number of great points. But if you take their advice literally, you’ll lose a great opportunity to create genuine customer loyalty. Read more

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.