In this guest post, Gartner’s research vice president Jake Sorofman (pictured below), says if you want to make customers happy, no need to surprise them, just be consistent with them…
We’ve all heard the stories about customer experience where brands that go to extraordinary lengths to delight a consumer. The home visit bearing gifts. The call from the CEO. The impromptu tropical vacation to reward your loyalty.
There’s no doubt that this sort of delight is a powerful currency, particularly in the age of social where these highly choreographed acts of kindness can be played out in plain sight.
But in the game of customer experience, I’d argue that consistency will always trump delight.
Why? Because delight is episodic—it’s once and done. It’s artificial—it’s rendered because someone else is watching. And because delight doesn’t scale—by design, it disobeys basic customer economics.
While delight has a purpose in customer experience strategies, it will never move the needle like consistency.
Delight may create brand advocates who spread the gospel of your goodness, but that’ll be a temporary blip if you fail to deliver on your brand promise. Delight without consistency is like the fun, but wholly unreliable friend whose inconsistency eventually wears out their charms.
Without consistency, your advocates will burn bright and then simply fade away.
It’s also worth remembering that advocacy is an imperfect indicator of loyalty. Admiration for a brand doesn’t necessarily lead to patronage. This is particularly true for higher end, aspirational brands.
As a concept, I’ll admit, consistency is a bit dull. But it’s what keeps your customers coming back. More to the point, it’s what prevents them from running for the hills.
For many companies, consistency is lost in the gaps between organisations, systems and processes. It’s the bank agent who, in a genuine effort to help, transfers your call into oblivion. Or the multichannel retailer that won’t honour bricks-and-mortar returns for online purchases.
Consistency is often compromised when good intentions work at cross purposes. When one organisation makes promises that other groups can’t or aren’t willing to fulfil.
These promises may begin with the right intentions, but they end up making the experience appreciably worse for the customer who’s whipsawed by the dissonance from one interaction to the next.
All the choreographed moments of delight can’t overcome that sort of thing.
So, before you seek to delight, focus on getting the experience right.