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Champagne on ice: how and why to delight your clients

Tom Hiskey, 17 March 2017.

User experience (‘UX’) is a process for building user-centric software, websites and products. The ultimate aim of any UX professional is to help build delightful experiences for users.

Psychology plays a bigger role in UX than you might think. Many UX professionals have degrees in psychology. Understanding how humans behave - how we make choices, how we react to frustration, what delights us and so on - can help build better, more usable and more software and product interfaces. 

In terms of the psychology behind UX, there is often significant overlap with customer experience and customer satisfaction. 

For example, take the Kano model. It’s a principle as applicable to people in customer service (i.e. anyone who deals with customers and clients) as it is to UX professionals, and as much to hoteliers and airline executives as it is to will-writers and financial advisers.

The Kano model describes three aspects of customer satisfaction as follows (and on the attached diagram).

1. Basic expectations

Basic expectations are barely noticed. However, satisfaction drops quickly when they’re not fulfilled.

Examples:
•    Hotel: running water, heating, clean linen
•    Airline: airplane doesn’t fall from the sky
•    Will-writer: legal expertise, drafting without errors
•    Financial adviser: financial expertise, replying to phone messages

2. Satisfiers

The more of these, the more satisfied the customer. By and large, the more of these ‘middle of the road’ benefits you can provide, the better.

Examples:
•    Hotel: comfy bed, good TV, good hot shower, friendly service, luggage storage, quick check-in
•    Airline: friendly service, nice food, TV screens on the seats, comfy chairs
•    Will-writer: prompt relies to communication, friendly service, open and communicative, clear
•    Financial adviser: prompt relies to communication, communicating by the client’s preferred method (e.g. email), clearly explaining benefits, risks, costs and rewards in plain English

3. Delighters

The unexpected extras. A couple of these and satisfaction can go through the roof. Delights will often linger in customers’ minds and can greatly increase the chances of high satisfaction.

Examples:
•    Hotel: a complimentary bottle of champagne on ice (like my wife and I found in our hotel room on our wedding night)
•    Airline: delicious food, complimentary gifts for children, lots of legroom
•    Will-writer: the will beautifully bound, unexpected and practical advice for the future, top notch and proactive communication with family members
•    Financial adviser: excellent and unexpected pro-active advice

Every business is different. You may well feel the examples above don’t apply to you, but perhaps they can inspire you to think about what might. 

A further consideration is that, as time goes on, demands increase, and what may have delighted initially is perhaps now only a satisfier. For example, in the 1950s, airline passengers may have been delighted or satisfied simply to get from A to B in relative comfort; today, this is a basic need. So it’s important to get useful customer feedback and review approaches periodically.

The Kano model is a simple way to visualise the need to get the basics right at all costs, make sure we offer strong ‘middle ground’ services, and to consider adding a couple of delightful flourishes on top: they can make all the difference.

Tom is Head of User Experience at Kings Court Trust. He’s responsible for creating delightful experiences for users of our software and websites, and also helps design documents and write content.