Delighting Customers/Exceptional Customer Service Critical? Nope. Myth!

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There’s a sense among those that tend not to be involved in the running of businesses to believe that exceptional customer service, or delighting customers is critical to the success of a business, and that it is in the interest of each business to pursue the goals associated with those ideas. It’s simply not true.

This, and similar myths come from an overly simplistic understanding of customer behavior which, by and large is falsely based on one’s own experience THINKING about customer service, rather than looking at BEHAVIOR. We often think we WILL do something if faced with bad service, or even great service, but it turns out that the relationship between what we believe we may do (or what others may do) and what we ACTUALLY do is not as strong as you’d think. We may not have the direct research to show this regarding customer behavior (it’s hard to tell) but we do know from social psychology research that what people say they will do in given situations often does not reflect what they actually do.

There is SOME supportive research on this issue at Harvard Business Review but as with all customer related research we cannot and should not “believe” the conclusions unless we can verify the research methods and logic are correct, something that cannot be done without paying for the ability to read the whole article. Here’s a short quote:

Two critical findings emerged that should affect every company’s customer service strategy. First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does. Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.

Here’s a few things to consider about this myth:

  • If every company on the planet “delighted” customers, the competitive advantage of your company (if there is indeed any based on delight) would be gone, of course.
    Clearly the reason why companies do NOT offer exceptional service or believe in delighting customer is because they don’t have to, and often it does not result in higher profits. In fact, the more you invest in achieving unrealistic goals in customer service, the worse your bottom line gets. So, these major companies aren’t stupid. They are practical. It’s business.
  • Some businesses SHOULD “delight”. Entertainment environments, for example, should be investing heavily in superior customer service and delightful environments. The same for hospitality industries at the upper end where people are actually paying a premium to be delighted. If you are a Comfort Inn, there will be NO return. If you are a plumber, not so much. you really don’t have to leave a mint in the washroom after you unplug the toilet.
  • If “delight” and “exceptional service” don’t really add to most bottom lines, what IS important? Simple. Don’t screw up, and if you do, make sure you have good recovery methods. Minimize the screwups and their severity. You only have to be perceived as just a bit better than your competitors, and it’s all about perceptions, not objective realities.

Yike!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Bacal
Robert began his career as an educator and trainer at the age of twenty (which is over 30 years ago!), as a teaching assistant at Concordia University. Since then he as trained teachers for the college and high school level, taught at several universities and trained thousands of employees and managers in customer service, conflict management and performance appraisal and performance management skills.

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