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The Key Drivers of Customer Delight and Dissatisfaction are Changing

November 16, 2010

The Key Drivers of Customer Delight and Dissatisfaction are Changing

Over the past year or so we’ve observed a marked change in some of the key drivers of customer delight and dissatisfaction. Most interestingly, the three changes below have been seen in many industries, and are prevalent in both consumer and business measurement.

As we think about delivering a consistently outstanding Customer Centric Experience, the following new trends are important to consider:

The first notable trend is Understand my needs. We’re consistently seeing important drivers related to this notion. In some cases, it drives dissatisfaction, what we call a Key Dissatisfier (KD), and in some cases, it drives loyalty or promotion, what we call a Key Enhancer (KE), but it is almost always important. Specific attributes in this category include ‘Know My History’ which is a new Key Dissatisfier, indicating that customers now feel it’s very important for companies to know about the business they’ve provided in the past, and tailor future interactions accordingly. Related to this we see ‘Personalized Service’ becoming a new Key Enhancer, suggesting an opportunity to delight customers if we know their history and meet or exceed their needs accordingly.

Make it easy for me is the second key theme we see newly emerging as a key driver. Notions related to a ‘Hassle Free Experience’ are consistently seen among the most important drivers of satisfaction and loyalty. An interesting tactical application of this knowledge is seen in ‘Customer Care’, which is now a KE. Customers have become so used to a customer care experience being painful that when it is done quickly & easily, it’s actually a real source of delight. We think the companies who are viewing this customer support function as an area of investment rather than a cost center will strongly differentiate themselves in the years ahead.

Finally, Make me feel comfortable is the 3rd emerging trend we are observing. Given the tumultuous times we’ve experienced over the past few years, it’s no surprise to see that issues of safety, reliability and guidance are increasingly becoming key drivers. The most notable change we have seen in this category revolves around attributes associated with building Trust. Customers expect a trusted advisor relationship or they will move their business elsewhere. We think this shift is fundamental and likely to endure for some time. This manifests itself in many ways, one we’ve seen pop is in a desire for ‘Fair Pricing’ – again, reinforcing a trusted relationship. These attributes are consistently key drivers, but have moved from the KE category in the past to the KD category now. This means, trust building attributes that were once sources of potential delight and could be differentiators are now considered minimum requirements.

Pricing is actually a good example to highlight all 3 trends. We see customers asking for pricing that is appropriate for their needs (e.g., a calling plan that matches my usage, recommendations that match my spending history); they want pricing that is easy to understand (no hidden fees, no 20 page contracts, no surprises when the bill comes); and, as mentioned, they want pricing that they consider to be fair.

We measure dozens of attributes for dozens of clients, and are seeing these 3 consistently – and newly – emerge as important drivers of satisfaction and Loyalty. Are companies ready to operationalize meeting these new needs?

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