SaaS Customer Success, Analysis, and Communication Blog

What Is Customer Delight? It's Bullshit, That's What It Is.

Posted by Michael Redbord

Feb 25, 2014 11:18:00 AM

The phrase "customer delight" is bullshit. A decent barometer for bullshit is a Google Images SERP:

customer_delight_is_bullshit

These results read more like Six Sigma and supply chain analysis than anything useful - much less anything a customer would care about. What a bunch of business drivel. It's a good sign that a business phrase has jumped the shark when a GIS page looks like this. Such depression.

Why Is Customer Delight Bullshit? I'll Tell You.

1. In reality, customers value speed and accuracy

For most businesses, you're not in the business of delight. I suppose some are - flower companies, massage parlors, and private jet shares - but most are in the business of trading money for products and services. Especially for B2B companies but really for most businesses out there, delight is far less important than speed and accuracy.

2. In reality, customers value completeness and context

Completeness of service seems like a no-brainer, but is actually a significant and consistent challenge in providing customer service and support. Ensuring that every single interaction is 100% complete is a personal (and somewhat maniacal, for those that work with me) obsession. How to ensure that a team comes close to that 100% mark is a whole blog post itself, but suffice to say that as a business grows and scales, this becomes increasingly difficult.

A big part of the "completeness" feeling for customers is pulling context to every customer service action. If you can solve a problem within the context of a customer's broader experience, it feels more complete to the customer, and you probably just headed off the next question, too. This means not providing simply an answer, but taking the time to understand an individual customer's context and provide solutions that are complete within the context the customer is currently experiencing.

3. In reality, customers value consistency of service and brand

For many companies, especially in competitive markets, customers engage with your business at least partially due to brand. Unpacking "brand" is kind of a mess, but let's leave it as "how you present yourself to the world online, through your product, and through your people". If your brand is spunky and fun, and your service is outsourced boredom, it's inconsistent. Keeping your service on-brand again helps to contextualize the experience and reinforces the values that caused a customer to originally purchase from you.

Consistency of service seems like a simple observation. It is. But again, in reality, it's really, really hard at scale. Hitting 100% of the goal 100% of the time across tens of thousands of interactions isn't possible - but customers require it to be satisfied. They expect consistency, and will become advocates if you're delivering speedy, accurate, complete service as a standard practice.

4. For businesses, manufactured delight is passe

Every customer-facing person in the past 10 years has read Tony Hsieh's seminal modern-day customer-service book Delivering Happiness. It's a tremendous read. Unfortunately, the service industry has an obsession with the notes on "manufactured delight" wherein a company deliberately creates an experience that is designed to delight a small fraction of  its customer base. There's a lot of other good stuff in the book, but people tend to take away the examples about deliberately creating "delightful mishaps".

While manufactured delight can lead to great press, it's not much of a customer generation or retention strategy in practice. And if you've ever ordered or called Zappos, you know that the foundation of their customer team isn't the one-off manufactured happiness - it's the consistent delivery of quick, accurate, and on-brand product and service day-in and day-out.

Concrete Steps to "Customer Delight" You Can Start Today

Here it is, the secret formula, guys:

Step 1. Consistently deliver fast, accurate, complete service that is on-brand and natural. Solve for the customer like crazy.

Step 2. Profit.

Step 3. There is no step 3. Just focus maniacally on step 1 and you will produce "customer delight".

A little proof: I had a good morning today at HubSpot and saw some customer delight in the wild, from a HubSpot (where I work) customer. We didn't do anything abnormal here, other than insane focus on details per the above:

 

hubspot_customer_delight

Topics: customer success, user experience

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About

redbord

I'm Michael Redbord. I work at HubSpot, a software company in Cambridge, MA.

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