It’s no longer enough to ensure customer satisfaction. The new mantra is ‘Customer Delight’. An insight
Forget at this point that you are an optical retailer and think that you are a customer. And you have just walked into a store looking for an affordable sunglass. You’ve heard of a few brands, you know some of them pretty well but you are still undecided about which one to buy. So, you enter this store known to stock some of the best brands for one of the best deals you could hope for. Thus, there is already a perceived sense of fulfilment within you as excitement of finding and purchasing the ‘right’ product has already crept in you.
But what happens when you enter the store, browse around a bit, wait for a salesperson to approach you and then find that they are all busy with other customers or grouped in small numbers chatting amongst themselves or worse, there aren’t enough of them around? After foot-tapping impatiently for a bit you finally approach one of the salespersons. If he bends backwards to appease you, you are mollified. Otherwise, after frothing at the mouth a bit, you take your bruised ego and walk out of the store. Perhaps never to return again.
‘Customer satisfaction’ is a loosely coined term that is the bridge between a flop and hit business. But ‘customer satisfaction’ by itself does not have a pre-marked destination. There are different ‘shades’ of satisfaction, each a little deeper than the previous. When someone steps into your store, even if he is a salesman or a beggar, he is automatically a customer. Somebody who will either buy something today and thereby give you instant business, or he is a prospective customer who has come to enquire, check out rates and range, and will come back another day. In this case through him, you are readying for future business. There is a ‘hidden customer and hidden marketer’ in the first customer too and he holds the power to generate two-folded business opportunities. One, when he comes back to buy for himself or family again, and second, when his recommendation gets his friend, acquaintance or associate to the store. Effectively this means that the store owner and his people are given as many opportunities to generate business.
But very often this multi-packaged golden opportunity is completely missed out by the store owner or his staff or by both. As a result, though the loop has been completed from identifying a customer, understanding his need, aiding him through the purchase with helpful suggestions and finally completing the loop by clinching the sales deal and billing him, somewhere along the way, the term ‘customer satisfaction’ has been shortchanged. A single dimension opportunity was recognised and fructified. But the several layers of opportunities that this one deal offered was not cashed upon. Therefore, while the customer may have been a ‘satisfied customer’, he was definitely not a ‘delighted customer’. Therefore, for every retailer, it is vital to understand the meaning of customer delight and how it can be achieved.
Customer Delight Higher Than Customer Satisfaction
By and large, our sales teams that work in the field or in the retail outlets work towards customer satisfaction. Which means once the person who walks into the retail outlet is identified as a customer, every care is taken to assure him that he is a valued customer – from understanding his needs to helping him select the right product at the best price he can afford and finally clinching the deal, accepting the payment and bidding him adieu with a smile. The loop is completed, we think, and the customer leaves, happy and satisfied. Customer delight is a larger loop and more intensive. It essentially means giving the customer something that he does not expect. And therefore surprising him as well as delighting him with the act. And this is what retailers should hope to achieve. To push the bar higher and move from customer satisfaction to customer delight. The more delighted the customer the better it is for the health of your business.
Identify What Delights Customers
Satisfying a customer is the basic. Let us start on the premise that we all know and practise that. The tougher task is to identify what would delight the customer and then aim to satisfy those desires. Let us first do a checklist of the basic ‘customer satisfaction’ acts and then move on to the listing of the ‘delightful’ acts.
Basic Customer Satisfaction Points
- Availability of all products that you claim to have.
- Excellent sales service from the people at the counters.
- Showing the customer all possible deals which would be beneficial to him at the price points he desires.
- If the product has to be ordered, then to ensure that delivery is on time. If for some reason delivery is delayed, to ensure that the customer is updated with the news along with the apology for the delay.
- Provide good after sales service.
- Keep the customer informed with all the latest updates about the products.
- Customer satisfaction is the personal obligation of all organisations.
Basic Customer Delight Points
- Make the customer feel welcome, maybe by offering a refreshing drink to the customer on arrival and not when he has been billed.
- Offer a free lens cleaning service.
- Offer a discount on the subsequent purchase.
- Offer referral points. For instance, for every reference that the customer gets to your business, accord some reference points to him. These points may be redeemed against a service like an eye test or against a purchase. This acts as an incentive for the customer to keep coming back to the store. But the important point to remember here is that incentives do not mean that the service can be overlooked. Other business ethics and behaviour remain the same; incentives remain an add-on.
How Customer Delight Works
In a research conducted on the optical industry, it was found that the difference between delighted customers and those who aren’t was basically pegged on reliability, courtesy, friendliness and perceived fairness. Friendliness is not restricted to just being warm and friendly with a smile and eager attitude. It had more to do with the customer’s understanding of what he considered to be integrity and fairness. Trust, the strongest bond between friends, is also the most loyalty earning points between customer and organisation.
If there is a bond of trust then it calls for a long-lasting relationship, and if in the tenure of this relationship, there are glitches, they are either overlooked or sorted. But they do not break the relationship between the customer and the retailer. That’s the kind of customer loyalty that exists when ‘customer delight’ is worked at diligently.
Zone Of Tolerance
Researchers say that every customer has a zone of tolerance, the range of which depends upon the faith and trust he has in your products and service. It works to the retailer’s benefit that this zone of tolerance is widened by better service and product quality. But if the bond of trust and faith breaks, then the axis tilts in the customer’s world and it’s never the same again. Sometimes it is more than one client. It could be a corporate client that you are dealing with. Corporate clients need careful handling as well. Have all that has been decided upon written in black and white. Get back to the written material time and again to reduce errors of mismanagement. With corporate clients, it is important to establish easy contact links. Give them one person to deal with in your set-up to ensure that his account is handled well. Remember, your business flourishes and grows if there’s a brand loyalty that the customer has. And loyalty is a behavioural pattern that has its roots in emotions. A ‘delighted customer’ has every intention to come back to the store.