Earlier this year, I read the book The Effortless Experience by M. Dixon, N. Toman and R. DeLisi. The authors compiled some terrific research - really enlightening stuff - but in their zeal to write a provocative book that challenges conventional thinking, they've lumped every conceivable customer service action into the category of "delight" (which they translate into breathless, over-the-top service).
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book (hence the 5-star review). I just thought it got much better after Ch. 1 - where the authors worked awfully hard trying to persuade readers that "delighting" customers was somehow a poor use of their time and energy.
Perhaps you're familiar with the customer service maxim to "treat every customer as though he/she is your grandparent"? Well, I put a slightly different spin on that. I think about serving customers as I would serve any other person in my life whom I value (friends, neighbors, children, spouses...).
With this in mind, consider the following paragraph from Ch. 1:
"But as powerful and compelling as (legendary customer service) stories are, what if you checked back with those same customers a year or two down the road to see how much more business they're bringing you? Because the data shows that in the aggregate, customers who are moved from a level of `below expectations' up to `meets expectations' offer about the same economic value as those whose expectations were exceeded."
Imagine applying this logic to your marriage: "Honey, from now on I'm going to focus on meeting your expectations as opposed to exceeding them. I read this great new book called The Effortless Marriage and I'm now convinced that there's no real value to exceeding your expectations by `delighting' you with love notes, roses, and that sort of nonsense. So, what's for dinner?"
In The Effortless Experience, the authors rebuke those service providers who "delight" their customers (for example, by expressing genuine interest in them or providing them with a pleasant surprise) as misguided. Instead, the authors advocate for reducing customer effort. As most reasonable customer service professionals understand, it doesn't have to be one or the other (delight customers OR reduce customer effort). It can be both.
In fact, as a customer myself, I'm "delighted" whenever a service provider reduces the effort I have to expend during a transaction. And I'm sure I'm not alone.