Is aiming for customer satisfaction good enough?
October 23, 2017 | 5:10 PM
by John Smith*
Picture used only for illustration purpose.

Muscat: In today’s competitive market place, it is universally recognised that the “Customer is King.” Sales and marketing teams, (and in some strong companies, the entire organisation) go out of their way to satisfy all their stated needs. However, is aiming for customer satisfaction good enough? Or should the goal be something larger, such as customer delight or to paraphrase Ken Blanchard, to create customers who are “raving fans?” And what exactly is the difference between customer satisfaction and customer delight?

Simply put, satisfaction is about meeting customer expectations; delight involves surpassing mere satisfaction and taking the experience to an emotional level.Keiningham and Vavra’s study on customer delight found a critical difference between satisfied customers and delighted customers.

Delighted customers were 86 per cent more likely to buy again as compared with 29 per cent that were merely satisfied. Delighting customers provides the brand with a competitive advantage, as well as increased sales and profits. A study by Reichheld and Sasser estimated that a 5 per cent increase in customer loyalty can produce an increase in profits ranging from 25 per cent to 85 per cent. The question is, how do you create delighted customers?

It is important to constantly look for ideas to surprise customers with unexpected rewards. For example, a restaurant could reward a loyal customer with the unexpected bonus of a free appetizer or dessert. This gesture is small but it could help create a special moment for the customer.

Showing genuine care for the customer by going that extra mile could also get very positive results. For instance, if the customer is buying an electronic device with multiple settings and functions, take the time to explain each function in detail. If possible, give them an additional number (even if it is your own number) they can call up if they need any further advice.

Customers expect you to always keep your word and your deadlines. The secret is to give them a date which can definitely be met. If you under promise and over deliver you will invariably delight the customer.

Active loyalty programmes with attractive rewards also help in building lasting relationships with customers.

While you should always aim to delight the customer, it is a business fact that occasionally there will be negative customer experiences as well. However; these should be viewed as opportunities to convert a bitter and disappointed customer into a raving fan.

I remember one such experience at The Intercontinental hotel in Lisbon. On a family holiday, we were woken up in the middle of the night by a loud drilling noise next to our room. This continued for more than 15 minutes, totally disrupting our sleep and led to a vitriolic call to the Front Desk. The Duty Manager responded instantly by profusely apologising and explaining that there was some emergency work being completed in an area near our room. He then, immediately upgraded us to the largest suite in the hotel, sent his staff to move our baggage to the new room and let us stay in the suite for the balance three days of the trip.

To top it all, when we were checking out, the Manager himself was there to personally apologise for the inconvenience that had been caused and to waive the room charges for the night our sleep was disturbed! An excellent example of a negative situation being transformed into a “wow” moment. It certainly converted me into a “raving fan.” And what exactly is a raving fan? Ken Blanchard, the management guru, has defined a raving fan as “ a customer who is so devoted to your products and services that he would not dream of taking his business elsewhere.Also,he will sing from the rooftop about just how good you are.”

The secret to creating a raving fan is very simple according to Blanchard. Decide what you can do for your customers and deliver it plus 1 per cent. You don’t need to be 50 per cent better, just 1 per cent makes the difference between a satisfied customer and a raving fan! It is so simple, really.

*John Smith is a seasoned marketing professional who has spent almost two decades in the Middle East. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Times of Oman.

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