Delighted Customers, so what?

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When were you last ‘delighted’ about any service? Can you remember any time you would call yourself delighted with a service? Okay, happy with the service perhaps, but delighted? I do remember one time, where I returned to a hotel in Switzerland and the GM complimented his guests.  ‘Ah Herr Mulder Sie sehen jedes Jahr junger aus!’ (Oh mr. Mulder you look younger every year). I can tell you, this guy really made my day! And I’ll be back! But otherwise, I find it hard to name any example of a service that has ‘delighted’ me or turned me into a loyal customer..

On the other hand however, with regard to bad service, I have examples in abundance. Ever tried to work with a phone company? Or a cable company? And why do I have to fill out so many forms for a bank for even the smallest of loans?

My experience has been such a drama that I will never use KPN (Dutch State Telecom provider) again, let alone recommend their service.


And the same goes for that ‘Hotel from Hell’ in Hamburg (see Tripadvisor for details J).  Sounds vindictive? You bet it is! They ruined the start of my vacation!

So would it have mattered if they had complimented me, or even compensated me for the room that can only be described as a cell with sauna temperatures on a noisy street? No, of course not! I will never be delighted by this hotel, whatever they do!

In my Blog number two, the Customer Journey, I’ve described how important it is to make a phone call to your own company as if you were a customer. When your business is hotels, I suggest you try sleeping there yourself as well, in different rooms and in different seasons!


An interesting case are call centres most businesses rely on for their initial customer contact.  So what would be their solution to improve the Customer Journey? And should they try to delight the customers they speak to?

In theory, ‘delighted’ customer are your most ‘loyal’ customers, your ‘ambassadors’, your ‘super promotors’. Given the experiences described above, I would settle for a more realistic scenario. Close the backdoor. Make your customers (or guests) happy, by helping them reach their goals.

This is an important lesson for call centres as well. First, start with a reduction of waiting time. Second, empower your employees to take action. And third, measure the effects of these actions. This measurement is called the CES (Customer Effort Score), i.e. what effort does it take to become a customer of yours?

Once you start measuring the Customer Effort Score be prepared for a shock. Especially when you find that  customers are transferred and put on hold all the time; a very effective way of saying to your customers: I don’t need your business, you need me.


The key implication is this: When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily. The nice thing about this is that it makes them happy so they stay. Asking call agents to ‘delight’ their customers will lead to confusion and costly giveaways. Telling them “to make it easy for the customer” gives them a solid foundation for action.


At Bell Canada (a phone company!) after mining customer data of the call centre, they discovered so-called ‘event clusters’.  Really good service, they discovered, is all about anticipation. So Bell started training call agents not only to resolve the question at hand, but also to anticipate the next question! And that could be about sending a tutorial or a link to an instruction video.

At Bell they call it: ‘the issue-prediction approach’. (HBR July-Aug ’10).


In Blog number four I discussed the ‘Persona’ approach. In the case of a mortgage company, this has proven to be effective in creating more loyal customers by using four different scripts for different types of customers. This mortgage company teaches its agents how to listen for clues to a customer’s personality type. Agents quickly assess whether they are talking to ‘a controller,’ ‘a feeler,’ ‘a thinker’ or ‘an entertainer’. The scripts vary in length and in the degree details are provided. This led to a reduction of 40% in the number of return calls. (HBR July-Aug ’10).

So rather than breaking your head over a concept like ‘delight,’ my advice is to go beyond the customer journey and try thinking and acting like your customers, from their perspective.

Interested to discuss? Call Jan Mulder at 31-206400980 or mail me at