Delighting the Customer


Companies need to delight customers to gain a competitive edge. The delight is referred to as a profoundly positive emotional state that results from having  one’s expectations exceeded to a surprising degree. The type of service that results in delight is “positively outrageous service”—that which is unexpected, random, extraordinary, and disproportionately positive.

A way that managers can conceive of delight I to consider product and service features in terms of concentric rings. The innermost bull’s eye refers to attributes that are central to the basic function of the product or service, called musts. Their provision isn’t particularly noticeable, but their absence would be. Around the musts is a ring called satisfiers: features that have the potential to further satisfaction beyond the basic function of the product. At the next and final outer level are delights, product features that are unexpected and surprisingly enjoyable. These are things that consumers would not expect to find and are therefore highly surprised and sometimes excited when they receive them. For example, in your classes the musts consist of professors, rooms, syllabus, and class meetings. Satisfiers might include professors who are entertaining and friendly, interesting lectures, and good audio-visual aids. A delight might include a free textbook for students signing up for the course.

Delighting customers may seem like a good idea, but this level of service provision comes with extra effort and cost to the firm. Therefore the benefits of providing delight must be weighed. Among the considerations are the staying power and competitive implications of delight.

Staying power involves the question of how long a company can expect an experience of delight to maintain the customer’s attention. If it is fleeting and the customer forgets it immediately, it may not be worth the cost. Alternatively, if the customer remembers the delight and adjusts her level of expectation upward accordingly, it will cost the company more just to satisfy, effectively raising the bar for the future. Delighting customers does in fact raise expectations and make it more difficult for a company to satisfy customers in the future.

The competitive implication of delight relates to its impact on expectations of other firms in the same industry.if a competitor in the same industry is unable to copy the delight strategy, it will be disadvantaged by the consumer’s increased expectations. If you were offered that free textbook in one of your classes, you might then expect to receive one in each of your classes. Those classes not offering the free textbook might not have high enrollment levels compared to the delighting class. If a competitor can easily copy the delight strategy, however, neither firm benefits (although the consumer does), and all firm may be hurt because their cost increase and profit erode. The implication is that if companies choose to delight, they should do so in areas that cannot be copied by other firms.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Customers as Competitors


If self-service customers can be viewed as resources of the firm, or as partial employees, self-service customers could in some cases partially perform the service or perform the entire service for themselves and not need the provider at all. Customers thus in a sense are competitors of the companies that supply the service. Whether to produce a service for themselves (internal exchange)—for example, home maintenance, car repair—or have someone else provide the service for them (external exchange) is a common dilemma for customers.

 Similar internal versus external exchange decisions are made by organizations. Firms frequently choose to outsource service activities such as payroll, data processing, research, accounting, maintenance, and facilities management. They find that it is advantageous to focus on their core businesses and leave these essential support services to others with greater expertise. Alternatively, a firm may decide to stop purchasing services externally and bring the service production process in-house.

 Whether a household or a firm chooses to produce a particular service for itself or contract externally for the service depends on a variety of factors. A proposed model of internal/external exchange suggests that such decisions depend on the following:

a)    Expertise capacity

b)   Resource capacity

c)    Time capacity

d)   Economic rewards

e)    Psychic rewards

f)     Trust

g)    Control

The important thing to remember is that in many service scenaries customers can and do choose to fully or partially produce the service themselves. Thus, in addition to recognizing that customers can be productive resources and co-creators of quality and value, organizations also need to recognize the customer’s role as a potential customer.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight