The right way to delight your customers

In this age of social media, I see a huge disconnect in brand's intention and action. Unless they are apple or amazon, rest of them, has to take customer service as prime focus over class, economics of the product. Rather than picking delicious low hanging fruits, I as a customer see them doing all sorts of creepy things that pisses me off on their quest to deliver a delightful experience. IMHO customer satisfaction is often mistaken as delivering delightful customer experience.

As an early adopter of products, I've developed some rather strong opinions/beliefs about what should be standard of good customer servicing. I'd like to share a few of them. Before I begun, let me emphasize these are my opinions, not necessarily valid for you.

1. Listen before you act

This has topped the list. With India, being the home of 2 eCommerce unicorn. I had this experience for both of them. I'd ordered a book from one of them. When I checked the book after delivery, I noticed few pages were upside down, I'd written an email to them about it. To my surprise, I was given refunds along with the reply to my email. Firstly, I dint ask for refunds. My initial reaction, was WTH? I reported them this problem and I receive a refund without apologizing. I understand when you operate at scale, things can go wrong. But at the same time genuinely say sorry when you empathize with the customer after listening to customer could have given you a better position than rudely sending refunds. I could have patiently waited for 2 more days to get the replacement instead of refunds. It certainly isn't proactive measure. It was an assumption made because the agent has cast customer into a refund stereotype.

2. Stop acting like you care

I can't stress this enough. Sending birthday, new year wishes as SMS or email isn't caring. I am not excited to receive your wishes. In fact, I hate such things. I am a developer and I know what it takes 'to care' for users at scale. So stop pretending. If you really care for the customer and my call was really important to you. Add more support agents to the customer service center. Show that you meaningfully care by reducing the time I had to hold on, on a call.

3. Value your customer's time

I find it to be the trickiest of all. With the advent of lean start up methodology, people know that feedback is essential for the product improvement. It involves two parts When and How. Be specific when you ask for feedback. I would say a minute after the purchase could be the ideal time to ask for, when it is about "purchase experience" and 3 days later if it is about the product, depending on first usage. They are better without mixing them and asking at one shot. Feedbacks will be greatly helpful when it comes from early adopters. Not everyone will give you feedback and that should be fine. Now comes the second part, How. Sending survey like emails with strongly agree, disagree, neutral options do more harm than good.
I remember how painstakingly I deleted emails from CEO enlighten me on what Swachh Bharat means to them? And what they are doing for it. Earlier it was mailers informing me that they are now available on Instagram. Sending promotional emails with obscure unsubscribe links.

4. Don't use customer's data other than necessary.

No one can beat banks when it comes to cross selling data within its internal divisions. I get annoying calls from them stating that average quarterly balance of salary account is eligible for personal loan, home loan, etc. To top it up, When I make purchase for more than 10k using card swipes, I could get calls from them explaining why it is beneficial for me to convert that into an EMI. It is to be noted that I've registered for DND. I was tired of their service and finally closed the account with them.

Similarly, Indian eCommerce startups flood my inbox with my shipment tracking. I didn't find the preference to turn them off.

Enough on this side, lets move on to the other side.

  1. CITI bank does it right. I haven't received marketing calls from them. I don't get other than statement emails from them. There is this neat feature on their credit card PDF statement. Any transaction over and above 10k will be hyperlinked. Clicking that you can convert that into an EMI without speaking to anyone. I've been using their card for 5 years now. When it was about to expire a year ago, they sent me an email a month prior with an option to submit the form for card renewal. I don't remember when I lastly spoke with their customer care regarding an issue. It in itself is a testament to their service.

  2. This is the 3rd year with SBI insurance. Every year around February, I will collect all the proof of investments I made to file for Tax. Multiple receipts for different investments. Its a tedious work. But this year I was surprised to see SBI Insurance send me a consolidated email of the all the policy proactively without having me to generate them by date and policy. This you can call it a delight. Readily usable without hassle, saving me time.

When I see in retrospection with all my experience, I think setting an expectation is the problem. I as a customer chose a product knowing what service it would offer. Any amount of hard work done to provide that level of service will be appear to be normal. It deserves the appreciation of "customer satisfaction". Over doing few items goes creepy. In fact, there is scope for you to fall short of my expectation and get a worse rating from me. Delight is when you offer me something which I'd not expected.

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