Forget Satisfaction, Don’t Wow, Be Better Enough

Wowing customers with delightful experiences has become all the rage. Customer-wow came into fashion with Net Promoter Score methodology and became the received wisdom of experience engineers across all sectors.

However, “wow” is a fickle friend. As Jeff Bezos says: “Yesterday’s wow quickly becomes today’s ordinary.” And wow is limitless. It acknowledges no constraints. Sure, you want to make pet owners happy but there are limits to what you can reasonably invest to this end. Just as there are limits to what pet owners can afford and/or are willing to pay for an incremental improvement in any experience. Indeed, there is a point where you come up against diminishing returns. Customer-wow is a useful idea but it is lacking in commercial pragmatism.

Some have suggested we should return to satisfying customers. We should stop optimizing and start satisficing* the pet care experiences that we offer. If the customer is satisfied then surely the experience was good enough And if the experience is good enough, what’s the problem?

Next please!

Not so fast…

Unfortunately, we know that good enough is not good enough. At least not when it comes to customer retention. The vast majority of people that defect from your veterinary clinic to a competitor would have reported being “satisfied” with the service you provided.

Satisfaction beats wow in that it sets a tangible standard. However, it sets the bar too low to be a reliable predictor of success. It’s pragmatic but not commercially aware.

If good enough is not good enough, what is?

Better enough.

In “The Extended Phenotype”, Richard Dawkins suggests that evolution by natural selection occurs through a process of meliorizing rather than optimizing or satisficing. Dawkins writes, “Where optimus means best, melior means better.” And just as natural selection favors “the better of present available alternatives”, so do pet owners.

So rather than providing the best possible experience or the minimum acceptable experience, we should focus our efforts on providing an experience that is better enough.

In defining better enough you will need to look around you and examine the experiences offered by the available alternatives… and not just the obvious ones. Look beyond the-clinic-down-the-road (even if they do have a bigger car park!), beyond even the latest disruptive direct-to-consumer offerings (think FirstVet or Itch) and include non-obvious alternatives, the biggest of which is an owner sitting on a problem and simply hoping for the best.

How can your offering become better enough than all available alternatives? Think fast, your survival may depend on it.

Resources to help you: Setting Customer Expectations Customer Experience with Alison Lambert The EIEI-O Approach to Veterinary Experience Engineering

*H A Simon via Dawkins via McCleery

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