Surprise and Delight: A Great Customer Service Concept. Or Is It? – Shep Hyken, CX Expert and Best Selling Author

Shep Hyken

When talking about customer experience, every business owner has probably heard the phrase “surprise and delight your customer”. While this might seem like common sense at first, what if we told you that customers don’t always want to be surprised? In this segment, we talk to Shep Hyken, customer experience expert and New York Times Best-Selling author of “The Amazement Revolution”. Shep discusses a recent article he published entitled, The Difference Between “Surprise and Delight” and Just “Delight”


Jim Fitzpatrick: We are so delighted to have the one and only Shep Hyken, customer experience expert, New York Times best seller author, one of the most sought after speakers on the speaker circuit today. Shep thank you so much for joining us once again on the Atlanta Small Business Show.

Shep Hyken: I’m excited to be here and by the way if you ever find out where that circuit actually is, I’d like to actually find it. They call it the speaking circuit.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today. So lets kind of jump right in here. You wrote an article, The Difference Between Surprise and Delight, and Just Delight. Let’s jump right in here. Tell us the concept behind the surprise and delight.

Shep Hyken: I had always been one of these people that believed in surprise and delight and one day I interviewed a very smart man named Matt Dixon, who wrote a book called The Effortless Experience. A great book. What it’s about is when there’s a problem, how easy is it for you to get to customer service to get your problem resolved? Do you have call? Do you have to be put on hold? Do you have to give your account number, your mothers Social Security number, your third child’s maiden name? Whatever it is, you get the idea.

Shep Hyken: How much of that do you have to give away before finally somebody says, “Okay, so what’s the problem?” And maybe there’s other friction that’s involved. So that’s what The Effortless Experience was all about. Which by the way, I know we’ve talked this in the past, the convenance revolution which I wrote about is about, that’s just one aspect of the whole process. But as I started talking with him, we started talking about surprise and delight, and he actually wrote an article, I believe it appeared in the Harvard Business Review, about how people don’t really want to be surprised anymore they just want to be delighted. I said, “Well work with me here because I’m not feeling it.” And he convinced me. He brought me over from the dark side, if you will. I went from Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker in one quick conversation.

Shep Hyken: But he convinced me and rightly so, that customers really want an easy, quick experience in any aspect of the process, especially when you’re dealing with a problem or a complaint, and they don’t really care as much about, “You know what? Hey I’m sorry this happened. I’m going to surprise you by giving you 20% off on your next order.” “I’m going to surprise you with some bonus later on.” And the delight part of it is, is I’m delighted we got the problem taken care of. But at the end of the day, customers don’t want to be surprised. They just want to have their problem resolved. Quickly, efficiently with as little as problem and effort and friction as possible.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s for sure. We were interviewing one book author, talking about customer experience, and he said customers today don’t want you to make it right. They want you to get it right, and this pretty much sounds like what you’re sharing here with us today, is that same kind of a theory. Customers want, just they want you to get this thing right.

Shep Hyken: Yeah, and you know first of all, nobody ever calls the customer service hotline, 1-800-customer service or whatever it is, just to talk to somebody because they’re looking for a friend. There might be some people that… most people that are watching this show probably don’t do that. But what they do, is hope that I’m going to… “God I got to call customer service.” And you know what? It’s not as bad as going to the dentist, but I could put it right up there for some people. They know there’s going to be pain. Pain in the form of wasted time, sitting on hold and all the things that I mentioned earlier and I think what your friend, or the guest that you had on was saying is, there’s a difference between getting it right and making it right. Making it right is making it happen and making it right doesn’t mean giving necessarily something extra.

Shep Hyken: One of the things I’ve advocated for years is, and I work with everything from… every type of business, B to B, B to C, but let’s talk about like a restaurant. I’m really sorry we got this wrong. Let me give you a free meal. And I jokingly tell my audiences when I use that example, this is why I always complain when I go to a restaurant, even when there is nothing to complain about, because I know I’m going to probably get something free. Please that is a joke. I really don’t.

Shep Hyken: But what the restaurateur, the manager, the server whatever is trying to do, is they are trying to make it right. But the way they’re trying to make it right is sure let’s fix the problem, and then I’ll just give them a little something extra. I don’t advocate giving the something extra. In the restaurant business you might want to do a little something, but here’s my thought. If you’re going to do something extra, do something the next time. I’m really sorry we messed up your meal. Tell you what we’re going to do. I want you to come back here next time and that meal’s going to be on me. Or I’m going to buy your first round of drinks. That gets me back into the restaurant the next time. Hey if you screwed up really badly, and I still feel unhappy about it, and you gave me a free drink or free dessert or whatever today, I still may never come back. But this little incentive hanging out there, that may be what it is.

Shep Hyken: So if you’re going to give anything away, which again I don’t necessarily advocate doing, I think you just do it right. You make it right with the right smile, the right attitude, the right effort and I’ll share with you in just a moment, I have a five step process for making it right in your terms, but for me I call it for restoring confidence, which is really what we’re trying to do. But if you do the right thing, you don’t have to give anything away because you want to just simply let that customer know I’m so glad you let me know that there’s a problem, because you gave me the opportunity to, as you say, make it right.

Jim Fitzpatrick: If you try to give something away, it kind of cheapens, it kind of cheapens the experience, right?

Shep Hyken: I think it can.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Where it’s like, here you go, here’s… something happened and it didn’t turn out the way you wanted, well here’s a little freebie, and it’s like no, you’re not getting it. What I’m sharing with you is that maybe you should change your system, or maybe you should change the pattern in which you do something so that others after me don’t have to experience this same negative experience, rather than just going oh here’s a freebie and I hope your satisfied, right?

Shep Hyken: It’s a bandaid, is what that is.

Shep Hyken: You’re just putting a bandaid over a wound. So I believe when we did a show a month or so ago, whatever, we may have talked about this five step process, so I don’t want to spend hardly any time on it but here’s the key. I think the difference between I’m going to make this right versus do it right or whatever, semantics, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to make it to a point where the customer says, “I’m really glad I complained.” By the way I always talk about the idea behind creating amazement is a consistent, above average experience where people say they’re always friendly, always knowledgeable, always helpful and even when there’s a problem I know I can always count on them, that we’re always followed by something positive.

Shep Hyken: So the way to get to that restored feeling is you must first acknowledge and apologize, and that’s step one and two, and it might go something like, “Wow. I’m really sorry that happened. I can understand why you’d be upset. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.” Those short little two, three sentences that literally took eight seconds, did exactly that. You can acknowledge, apologize in any order. But that’s step one and two.

Shep Hyken: Step three is this is what we’re going to do to make this right. Step four is I own this. It may not have been my fault, but it’s now my opportunity. Step five is I’m going to act with urgency. So acknowledge, apologize, fix it, own it, act with urgency and when you do that, that to me if you do it right, that’s better than the bandaid of 10% off, or the free whatever. You do it right and that’s what customers are calling you for. They’re hoping for that and a really good person in customer service will not only make it right, but they’re calming the customer down, they’ll make that customer feel like this is the best company in the world, I’m so glad I called you.

Shep Hyken: By the way, that’s one aspect of something we call the demanding customer. We demand that they demand of us. We want you to complain to us when there’s a complaint. We don’t want you to go off and tell your friends. We want to have the opportunity to restore your confidence in us. So make the demands.

Jim Fitzpatrick: And they’re entitled to that right? If you’re doing business with them and you want to be doing business with a good company, and you want to give sound feedback to the company that you’re doing business with. We all understand that some companies are going to trip and make a mistake but the fact of the matter is, if they’re going to listen to you in the right manner, with the right mindset, and then commit to making the changes to make the experience better, that’s what we’re looking for right?

Shep Hyken: Yeah. My friend Tom Baldwin is the former CEO of Morton’s The Steakhouse. Currently he’s the chairman of Benny Hannas and he’s on the board of a bunch of other restaurants, and he had a great definition of customer service. I wonder if he even remembers saying this one day. But he says customer service is to me, it’s mistakes handled well.

Shep Hyken: Think about it. If you’re in the restaurant and you see a mistake and it’s handled the right way, by the time the customer leaves they’re never even going to be thinking about the mistake. They’re going to be thinking about how much they look forward to coming back. I think that’s a really powerful concept and when you think of customer service departments, that’s what we do in the customer service department, is we handle mistakes well, or problems or complaints well.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So if you had to leave business owners with one thought in this area, one suggestion, what might that be?

Shep Hyken: All right and I’ll just go back to what we started off with, and customers don’t really care. I mean they sometimes might like the feeling of surprise and delight but at the end of the day, they really don’t care about the surprise, they only want the delight.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Thank you so much. Shep Hyken, it’s always a pleasure. Customer experience expert, New York Times best selling author, all around great guy. Thank you again so much for joining us on today’s show. We very much appreciate it. We always get such great comments from all of our subscribers and our viewers whenever you’re on, so hopefully we can do this again soon.