Forgive me, but every time I pick up my drink on the Starbucks counter, after waiting in a usually long line with others whose cups get placed on the same counter with the same amount of impersonal interaction, I wonder how it is I am supposed to feel delighted. Was it the name on my cup, spelled correctly or not? Or the checks in the “Extra Hot” or “Skim” boxes? Or the fact that I can sit at the table for a lot longer than the five minutes it takes to consume my $5 drink?
Since the decade of “delight” began, companies in all industries have scrambled to come up with their own processes for delighting customers. All with the notion that the more you delight, the more you buy, and the greater your loyalty is. And so we have believed for years. However, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) conducted a study with more than 75,000 people who had interacted with contact center and customer service reps via phone or online channels, and found that satisfaction has little to do with loyalty. Even those free products or service upgrades you might give away during a transaction don’t translate into brand loyalty. What I find especially telling from this study is the fact that 20 percent of satisfied customers for a brand said they intended to leave the company, and 28 percent of those customers claiming to be dissatisfied said they planned to stay. Huh?
So what is a brand to do?
Stop focusing on delighting. Serious attempts to delight customers, in my experience, have resulted more often in customer service protocols employees must follow that are often more irritating than delightsome. When my bank tellers all give me the same carefully rehearsed closing line, verbatim, I don’t feel special. And when I get a phone call 10 minutes after checking into a hotel room to see if I like the room, I’m not delighted. But rather irritated as I know it didn’t come from the heart but rather the customer service training script upon which job reviews are based.
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