Don’t Delight. Just Do It Right.

The Financial Brand recently published recommendations based on their 2018 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions report. 33 Tech Strategies Banks and Credit Unions Must Implement Immediately provides an excellent list of priorities and I’m sure many finance professionals are happily checking off quite a few of these as already in place. But if you find that you still have a pretty long to-do list, I encourage you to prioritize with a specific principle in mind: consumers punish bad service more readily than they reward delightful service.


Harvard Business Review (HBR) examined this phenomenon in great detail in their August 2010 article, Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers. In this article, HBR introduced their Customer Effort Score and an approach designed to reduce the burden on customers. In short, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort, and the work they must do to conduct business with you and get problems solved, does. Going “above and beyond” to exceed customer expectations only makes them marginally more loyal, but often this effort has significant institutional cost and can even lead to bad service and disgruntled customers. Rather than trying to “delight”, make customer interactions easy by removing obstacles and reducing friction.


As you contemplate a long list of priorities to implement “immediately”, here are some things to keep in mind:


  • Prioritize removing friction. If you have to stage your efforts, work on the ones that will remove friction over those that will “delight” customers. Remember, consumers punish bad service more readily than they reward delightful service.
  • Don’t take on more new projects than you can execute well. Sometimes we see companies add features or services in a race to meet or beat competitors, but the features are complicated, confusing, or worse, don’t work. My colleague recently encountered this when using her doctor’s patient portal to ask a question of her provider. The portal was clunky, the process was painful, and the outcome was a promised call from someone in the office – a call she never received. In this case, the provider would have been better off not offering this service.


Businesses are racing to satisfy rapidly evolving definitions of what constitutes “must have” services and products. In the process, just remember that while failing to change with the times will eventually lead to failure, changes that are rushed and poorly executed and consequently cause disruption to your customers can get you to failure even faster.


— posted by Stephanie Gonthier, Executive Vice President