All businesses talk about being customer focused. The customer is always right; the customer comes first; service is our main focus; but most of this is all talk with very little action. Isn’t that true? How many of you have heard this message on the phone – “your call is important to us, your estimated wait time it 21 minutes”. Really! Most of you would prefer to hang up but are often left to putting the phone on the speaker while you work on something else while waiting. Customer satisfaction is no longer enough, its customer delight that sets your company apart from the others.
So how would you define customer delight? According to Chip Conley, in his new book, “Emotional Equations”, there’s a formula that rings true for many:
Customer Delight = Results – Expectations
We live in a world that demands results. We also expect stellar service or customer delight. Mediocre service can only be tolerated when you don’t have a choice, like when you’re going through security in the airport. But if your service is mediocre, you’d better start planning your company’s funeral.
Conley’s formula is quite simple and only requires common sense. Many sales professionals promise the customer the moon thinking it will help them win their business. Once they do win it, their challenge becomes delivering on the promises they made. Setting expectations is critical to your sales success. You should be brutally honest with your customers and your goal should be to “under promise and over deliver” – this time, and every time. This is the key to sales and service success. Do you think you stand out in a positive way when your voicemail message says – “your call is very important to me – I will return your call within the next 24 hours”? What? In today’s 24/7 connected world, 24 hours is enough time to completely miss out on good business opportunities you might have had. Your goal, and your message, should be to get back to them as soon as possible.
Customers today have many options. We live in a world where there’s frequently more supply than demand. As far as I know the only industry that gets away with poor service is the airline industry. But with Southwest Airlines and my experience recently with Jet Blue, these two airlines can be a major threat to the big ones, where many have experienced bankruptcy. Southwest has maintained its profitability throughout most of this recent economic downturn – mainly because of the way they delight their customers.
When you set realistic expectations, your chances of achieving and surpassing the desired results will lead your customer to a great experience working with your company. How do you manage expectations? What are the expectations that you set with your customers? Think first about what you can reasonably achieve on their behalf. Can you improve on the delivery time? Then state the standard, and delight with an early delivery. Can you add a feature and stay within your desired profit margins? If so, surprise and delight them with the addition. You are in control of expectations and to stand out against your competition, you must also control the customer experience. Delight them again and again, and you’ll build trust and a customer for life.