Do All Your Touch Points Need To Be Perfect?

…or, does allowing a little “customer pain” actually help?

Pursuing excellence, customer centricity and continuous improvement are obsolete; so says Sampson Lee in his 2015 article “Turn Upside Down How PAIN is Perceived in Innovating CX and Brand Management”.

I am glad to say that I haven’t really had many bad customer service experiences, just some that fell short of expectations or I was disappointed in. Did this cause me “pain”? No, not in the literal sense but it did show a gap between expectations and my willingness to “accept” what was not to my liking.

The most recent example came when I took my wife to a great resort spa for her birthday, just a quick overnight stay at a spa that was rated in the top 5 in the country. Everything was top-notch, a beautiful property, excellent bellman & front desk service and the spa was fantastic!

The employees were so friendly and professional, we had a great time.

Now I know why they are rated so high, they deserved it…

But when most of the company is operating at such a high level, the departments that do not maintain the same level of service really stand out.

This happened with the restaurant.

We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner there during our stay. The food was good, very good. Plate presentation was nice and so was the restaurant’s atmosphere. But here’s where they fell short and the same level of attention to detail and service was not followed.

I can’t say the experience was terrible, because it wasn’t.  But customers, such as me, do notice when there is a “kink in the armor” as they say.

All the little pleasantries of fine dining service were not there and it showed. Example:

Waiters with a pack of cigarettes clearly seen through their white shirt pocket; the failure to remove both salad plates before the entrée was served; not checking back on us to gauge our satisfaction with our meals; no automatic replenishment of our beverages, to name a few.

Were these acts so detrimental to the overall quality of the property to prevent me from returning? No. But they did stand out as failures in service compared to the high level and quality service provided by the other areas.

As Mr. Lee writes; “Will your customers be satisfied if you eliminate all their dissatisfaction? The answer is NO.”

He continues; “Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman suggested that human beings only remember two moments of any experience – the peak and the end. The conventional approach to customer experience management tries to make every moment “good” from the beginning until the end of an experience. It attempts to raise the entire red line higher and higher to achieve the highest level of industry standards. The problem of pursuing excellence is it takes lots of resource; you dilute your limited resources trying to improve too many things. This approach generates a flattened emotion curve with an insignificant peak and end. You are simply wasting your company’s resources because the experience is not remembered by your customers. When you disallow pain, you minimize pleasure.”

Did the spa’s restaurant intentionally allow me to “feel pain” to heighten the exceptional level of service elsewhere? I doubt it. Possibly they had an “off day”, it happens to the best of businesses.

But what if the restaurant service was as high-end as everything else? Would I have the same impression and satisfaction with the whole resort if every touch point was perfect? Good question.

Don’t I need some measure of excellence to gauge what worked and what didn’t? This isn’t possible when “everything” is great, is it?

What about being sick to value good health? When we’ve gone so many years without it won’t we finally value our newly attained wealth? The former is our pain point, the latter our pleasure.

Maybe Mr. Lee is on to something. “P.I.G” (pain is good), agree?


Steve DiGioia
Steve DiGioia
With 20+ years in the hospitality industry and a lifetime of customer service experience, Steve DiGioia shares real-world tips and tactics to improve your customer service, increase employee morale, and provide the experience your customers desire. As a certified trainer, author & speaker, Steve has been recognized as a 4-time “World’s Top 30 Customer Service Professional” by Global and a “Top Customer Service Influencer” by multiple industry-leading sources. He is also a featured contributor to the leading hospitality and customer service websites. With a tagline of “Finding Ways to WOW Your Customer”, Steve continues his pursuit of excellence on his award-winning blog sharing his best strategies on customer service, management, and leadership. Follow Steve on Twitter @Steve DiGioia.

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