Recently, there was much ado in Australia as the Federal Government slightly reduced (less than 10%) the amount of money that it gives to new parents: the so called Baby Bonus. The reduction in this grant has caused a lot of dissatisfaction in the community. Could your customer delight program cause a similar backlash?
Customer Delight can be counter-productive
Introduced about 5 years ago, the $5,400 baby bonus was given to parents on the birth of each child and was seen as a true bonus by families who had no prior expectation of receiving it. However, that was when the world economy was not on the financial edge and Federal Government finances were flush. At the time, at the Federal Government level, Australia had a net government surplus, i.e. cash in the bank. Almost unheard of in the Western world.
Well, times change and in the November mini-budget the government cut the amount to $5,000 and the media was full of unhappy people: it’s just not fair they shouted in chorus. “How dare the Government take my money”. How did we go from voters delighted at an unexpected windfall to voters decrying the government taking what is “rightfully mine”?
Now it’s fair to say that there may have been a level of media beat up in the response to this announcement but it doesn’t mean that there was no impact on the perception of government.
The problem that the Government faced is very similar to the one that many customer loyalty programs suffer. One you get a customer used to a certain level of service or functionality it is very difficult to reduce that level without backlash and dissatisfaction.
If you give them a Gold Card with exclusive benefits because they travel X thousand miles a year they will love you but try taking it away when they change jobs and only travel twice a year.
What is the solution?
I think that the current mantra to delight the customer is over rated and most organizations are unable to convert the idea into a reliable process . More importantly delighted customers have their basic expectations upgraded and are less satisfied and loyal if you try to return to the previous level of service.
Even though I do not subscribe to all the points made in “Stop Trying to Delight your Customers” I do agree with the concept that delivering your core offering efficiently, accurately and consistently is key to long-term success.
Why do I buy from Amazon: because they deliver on the core requirements and make it easy.
If I want a book I can be 99% sure that Amazon will have it. When I find it I know that I can buy it with one click and have it delivered in hard copy in a few days (I live in Australia) or instantly via Kindle. Total time to complete the task, maybe 30 seconds. Really, there is no delight in the process but there is loads of competent, easy to use, service offering.
Customer delight may seem like a good idea but you are more likely to generate long-term, loyal customers by consistently delivering your core offering and making it easy for your customer. Plus it is a lot easy to implement than customer delight.
 If you can’t convert an idea into a process it has no place in business. While it’s nice to believe that every employee is an individual and can star in their own right and in their own way, it’s not practical, scalable or fair. How can it be fair to exhort staff to delight customers but not give them any way to reliably to do it or measure their success?