Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers

WHAT!?  No, you didn't read that wrong.  This is the premise behind an article in the July/August issue of Harvard Business Review.  The authors of this article argue that exceeding customer expectations has minimal impact on the customer's loyalty; instead, the true driver of loyalty is the effort it takes on the part of the customer to get their problem resolved.  They have statistics from their study to back this claim.  Of the customers that reported low effort, 94% expressed an intention to repurchase, 88% said they would increase their spending.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, 81% of the customers who had a hard time solving their problems reported an intention to spread negative word of mouth.

The article, along with much of the work done related to NetPromoter, takes an interesting stance that flies in the face of the 80% of contact centers that use CSAT to attempt to measure customer satisfaction.  Although they do not attempt to discredit the value of CSAT overall, the authors believe it is limited in its ability to gauge customer loyalty.  Of course, the main thing to keep in mind as I have said in posts before is that there is no "magic bullet".  The most appropriate methodologies depend heavily on what it is your trying to accomplish.  Keep that in mind when you design your Voice of the Customer program.  Regardless, this article is valuable in that it provides another approach to using customer feedback, expanding the tools that you have available to you.