Incorporating customer delight may be easier than you think. But how should you measure the impact of delight? And how can you delight existing customers? Terry Vavra and Douglas Pruden discuss these questions and more as they comment on a recent article published in Quirk’s, “Measuring and managing customer delight.”
Authors: Douglas Pruden,Terry Vavra, Carl Phillips
Why you should strive for customer delight
Editor’s note: Terry Vavra and Douglas Pruden are senior partners at the consultancy Customer Experience Partners. Vavra is based in Richmond, Va. He can be reached at email@example.com. Pruden is based in Wilmington, N.C. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depending upon who you listen to, customer delight is either critical for retaining customers and building a business or customer delight is a no-win strategy that can never be executed cost-effectively. In addition, for those who believe in working to delight customers, the debate continues with the question of whether the priority should be to delight more customers or to reduce the number of dissatisfied customers. They are both important issues to consider which we discussed in our book, “The Customer Delight Principle” – one of the first studies of the strategy of delighting customers. In this article, we will limit ourselves to two questions we frequently hear raised:
- How should you measure the impact of delight?
- How can you delight more existing customers?
An article published last fall by Quirk’s discussed a study conducted by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting and Arizona State University’s Center for Service Leadership. The researchers probed a national sample of 2,519 households asking if they had experienced delight with their interactions with a company in the previous six months. If so, they were presented with a list of 15 “delight actions” extended by an “other” category.
Common delight actions
While the study is limited, of course, by the fixed list of the 15 tangible and service-based response options (plus an open-ended “other”), the researchers found top types of delighters (Figure 1).
Actions Associated with Delight
(Company) Was Honest
(Company) Offered Good Value for Money
(Rep) Was Enthusiastic
(Rep) Was Transparent with Explanations
(Rep) Showed Interest/Concern
(Rep) Created a Fun or Entertaining Interaction
Further down on the list were attributes such as “provided unique knowledge” (25%), “provided extra value” (at no extra charge for additional service) (20%), “utilized surprise” (since you had to wait extra time your order is now free) (19%) and “sold other products or services that were useful/tailored to me” (16%) – more on this last item later.
In the article the authors offer three summary findings.
- Honesty and transparency are powerful delighters.
- Cross-selling is a major delighter.
- Delight can be delivered cheaply via customer service representatives’ actions, behaviors and words.
The authors further elaborate that since 8 of the 15 delight actions were delivered through customer service reps’ actions, behaviors and words that “delight can be delivered cheaply.”
Questioning the conclusions
While we would be happy to believe the authors’ conclusions (and truly hope they are all correct), we must raise several questions about them.
- Most importantly we challenge the use of customers’ explicit judgements of the delight-producing activities. We’ve outlined the most accurate way to identify ‘drivers of delight’ in “The Customer Delight Principle.” In the book we outline an analytical procedure to implicitly derive importance weights by regressing customers’ perception of the presence of those actions regressed on their overall satisfaction levels. This procedure overcomes the biases of overt judgement demands on respondents. (They score items that sound “delight-provoking” high.)
- This study fails to avoid the limitation of attribute lists prepared by study authors. The fact that eight of the attributes can be “achieved by personal interaction as easily as monetary means” would therefore seem to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. While an “other” category was apparently offered, the authors do not report on attributes volunteered at high frequency.
- They claim that “delight can be delivered cheaply via customer service representatives’ actions, behavior and words.” We all wish it were so, but practical experience contradicts the assertion. Anyone working with customer-facing reps knows that achieving great service is difficult and requires great training, reinforced motivation and improved compensation. The suggestion that this can be done cheaply has to be questioned.
- The suggestion that “sold other products or services that were useful/tailored to me” was a “delight action” may be true. However, its selection may be more a result of it having been selected by the investigators as one of the 15 listed actions. It did rank 13th out of the 15 items with only 16% of study participants identifying it.