Customer Delight at the Speed of Thought

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As a 7 year old I was a very curious lad. I was the kid that was asking all the questions. I expected that my parents would know all the answers and fairly fast. One day I wandered around the house and discovered something new, an encyclopedia set. I soon learned that I could get the answers for myself. I was excited.

Soon after I began to see the immense value of the school library, almanacs, and many different resources that would answer my questions. As time progressed I became more addicted to this ability to ask a question in my mind and then find an answer fairly quickly. However, I was unnerved that some of the questions I had, could not be answered by the library in country town I lived in.

As time progressed the computer revolution began and soon after the Internet. This changed my whole paradigm. I could now get almost every answer I needed based on how fast my fingers moved. It has become such an addictive resource, now my wife just randomly asks question to the air and expects me to find the answer! And even further, I have questions that haven’t even popped up in my head yet. Answered via an app push notification to me on my phone. My excitement and delight is complete.

This human behavioral transformation into immediacy as the norm has developed in all parts of our lives. I remember the brick and mortar call centers of the 90’s. How we were all comfortable waiting for an email for a few days. Then we transitioned to waiting on hold for a few minutes. Now we are addicted to getting an on demand response. We have a problem and we want it solved now. If it isn’t solved, we will just find a company that will solve it on our terms.

Companies that get this, really thrive. Now pulling on that string further, imagine a company delivers a service on demand. Now the customer’s expectations are even more immediate, they want you to predict when a problem may exist and prevent it from ever happening. The appetite for error or service latency is non-existent. Customers pay a premium for now and they what they pay for. I mean you would to, right?

The future of customer service draws me back to a book I read a decade ago,“The Best Service is No Service” by Bill Price and David Jaffe. The concept being that customers actually don’t want help, they just want a simple, seamless, and high quality product or service that works. They want companies to anticipate their thoughts and build and evolve around them. They want to be delighted by never having a negative experience. They want delight and that’s all they want.

The future of customer service is actually not service at all, its product delight. If companies build products that never require a question, that never elicit a negative feeling, then true customer success arrives. It is these companies that invest in the beginning of the cycle that will be the future of industry and business. In the late 90’s an old measure of the cost of service in a company was if your service costs were 6% of revenue you were world class. I would propose that if your service costs are greater than 1% of revenue, you are failing at true customer delight.

If you are a CEO or Founder in a company, I would encourage you to not hire people to solve customer problems after the fact, I would implore you to hire the smartest, most talented product managers and engineers. Empower them to build it right from the beginning and never allow your customer service team to be more than 1% of revenue. If you do it right your customer service team will be the smallest team in your company. And your customers will have no choice, but to be loyal to you.

Ultimately the choice is up to you, as a customer that wants delight at the speed of thought, please make the right product decisions today, so I don’t have to talk to your customer service reps tomorrow!

I mean think about it, if I am talking to your customer service team, I am not spending time getting addicted to your product.


Courtesy: “The Best Service is No Service” by Bill Price and David Jaffe.

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