What is customer delight?
Let’s not pull any punches: customer delight should probably be your number one priority.
Sure: revenue, profit, and growth are especially important in today’s economic climate, but customer delight trumps them all because its what enables them all – and it drives customer retention to boot.
But how do you actually define ‘delight’? What makes for a delighted customer over a satisfied one? And how can you tip the scales in favor of the former?
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of customer delight, but first, we need to figure out what it is. Luckily, it’s a fairly basic concept to grasp: customer delight is the act of giving your customers moments and experiences they won’t forget by creating human connections that exceed their expectations.
Delighting customers is about going above and beyond, and providing experiences that outmatch their expectations. Where it gets tricky is that customer delight can be won through a whole host of activities and business practices, ranging from the simple to the mind-blowing. Customer delight might come as the result of adding a handwritten note with their order, for instance, or it might be giving them something huge and unexpected as an extra special treat.
It might come as the result of an amazing interaction with a customer service representative, where a customer issue wasn’t just solved, but solved with empathy and understanding.
The sky’s the limit, but the ambition is always the same: give customers moments that make their jaw drop – and that gives them cause to tell their friends, family, colleagues, and online followers all about how great you are.
In other words, customer delight relies on your ability to see customers as lifelong partners, rather than numbers on a spreadsheet.
Customer delight vs customer satisfaction
Many businesses, rightly, track customer satisfaction as a core metric. CSAT and NPS scores are fantastic ways of monitoring not only satisfaction but customer retention and customer loyalty also.
But here’s the thing: customer satisfaction is the bare minimum you should be shooting for, which makes customer delight an altogether different beast. In fact, while CSAT and NPS results point to loyalty and satisfaction, it’s those resulting metrics that you’ll use to benchmark customer delight.
Truly delighting your customers means creating experiences that go beyond simple satisfaction. Sure, satisfied customers are often loyal customers, but you can build satisfaction simply by providing the customer with whatever it was they expected – and nothing more. When you truly delight people, though, they become something much more powerful: advocates.
Advocates will stick with you through thick and thin, help promote your business to people in their sphere of influence, and even stick up for you in times of crisis. Delighted customers, then, are your strongest allies and most powerful asset.
Exceeding customer expectations
What does it mean to exceed customer expectations? Well, think of it like this: in any given transaction or customer interaction, there’s an outcome that stands as the bare minimum expected result.
If a customer purchases a product or service from you, for example, the bare minimum outcome is that their money is exchanged securely, the product arrives quickly, and whatever it is they’ve been advertised works or behaves as they were told it would.
Exceeding that expectation involves ticking all those boxes and then adding spoonfuls of extra care on top. Perhaps that’s a personalized note explaining welcoming them to the fold. Maybe it’s a little free goodie in the box. Or maybe it’s follow-up weeks or months later to ask how they’re getting on.
Another example is customer support. A positive customer experience here would be that any issue the customer had is dealt with speedily and with empathy, thanks to professional and well-trained customer service reps.
Delight, though, might come from that agent being able to reference and apologize for issues the customer has had in the past, offering something free as recompense for their troubles, or offering to get in touch later down the line to ensure that everything’s still working as it should.
It also comes from your frontline customer support team, and is enabled by empowering those agents to do their very best work. That means using the right tools that can aid them in showing care, attention, and diligence.
Exceeding expectations really means showing empathy, taking an extra step that people might not expect, and making gestures that go way beyond the pursuit of profit.
Why is customer delight important in business?
When we talk about customer delight, we’re talking about ensuring that the customer experience on offer is in your industry’s very top tier.
So when thinking about the importance of delighting customers and exceeding expectations, we only need to take a look at statistics that prove how closely a great customer experience correlates with an increase in customer loyalty, satisfaction, retention, and lifetime value.
First up, it’s worth knowing that customer experience is now the key driver of brand differentiation – over and above product and price. And that’s reflected in revenue; companies that put customer experience first tend to perform up to 8% better than their competitors, while some 84% of companies that invest in the customer experience report revenue increases.
That’s because the customer is now keenly aware when a company isn’t doing enough to delight them at every opportunity, with 73% suggesting that the experience they receive is the key way to earn their loyalty.
A vital part of that is offering a personalized, more one-to-one experience. Research shows that 49% of consumers have made impulse purchases as a result of the personal touch, while a massive 80% say that they’re more likely to make purchases that come alongside a more personalized shopping experience.
Last but by no means least: when you build a company culture that’s designed to delight customers, your employees will benefit too. Delivering positive customer experiences makes employees 1.5 more engaged than those at organizations that focus less on exceeding the customer’s expectations.
How to delight your customers
Ok, so how do you actually delight customers? We’ve already mentioned some personal touches and nice little flourishes that can go a long way, but, really, to achieve customer delight you need to bake it into every touchpoint, interaction, and journey.
To do that, you’ll need to adopt a few practices and approaches to customer experience management that will transform the way people see your business. Here’s how…
Listen and understand
As Roy H. Williams, Author & founder of the Wizard Academy Institute puts it: “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.”
To know those expectations, you need to know what’s working, what’s not, and what your customers have to say generally about their experiences with you. This is why it’s so important to employ technology that can listen out for customer conversations across every touchpoint – both solicited and unsolicited, structured and unstructured – and piece everything together into real-time actionable insight.
With the right tools in place, you’ll be able to scour social networks and third-party review sites, alongside inbound emails, calls, and texts to get a crystal clear view of what customers think, and how you can improve.
That improvement is your chance to delight customers, but it needs to come from empathy and understanding. That means fixing widespread issues and closing experience gaps you know many customers are having, but it also means focusing on the smaller, personal, one-off issues. If you can identify a single customer’s problem and work hard to solve it for them, you’ll be creating customer delight.
Empower your frontline staff
Delighting customers is all about creating breakthrough experiences. Your customer support agents may be great listeners and empathisers already, but what really sets brands apart is the wherewithal to leverage intelligent tools that can take those experiences to a new level.
AI-powered customer experience management suites can listen to calls, track social media posts, and monitor text interactions, and provide your frontline teams with extra contextual information that will help them push each interaction from great to exceptional. With the right software providing a helping hand with things like script compliance, customer background insight, and empathy, customer support teams can make truly delighting your customers a routine occurrence.
Map customer journeys
Part of knowing what it is customers want is to understand how they’re interacting with your business. Customer journey mapping is a great way to internally demystify those personas and use cases that make up your customer base.
Once you’ve mapped out a range of journeys and customer types, you’ll also be able to see opportunities to sprinkle in a touch of customer delight by – for example – streamlining their leap from touchpoint to touchpoint, or identifying areas where you can better connect points of customer information.
And that brings us nicely on to…
Exceed their expectations with connected experiences
Imagine you have a customer calling up to discuss a recent issue they’ve had. A poor version of that call would involve an agent who has no idea what’s happened, who the customer is, or even if this is their first purchase or their thousandth. That customer wouldn’t leave feeling particularly well treated.
Much better, then, would be to utilize customer experience management tools that can link customer experiences and data together. That’s because customer delight is often the result of seamlessness.
If that same customer support agent was better informed, they might be able to apologize for the fact that a customer is having to call for a second time about the same issue, thank them for their recent purchases, and even offer a discount for a certain product that they know that customer loves. With the right tools, the latter can even be done proactively with pop-ups on your store page or in an app.
But connected experiences can make a world of difference outside of customer support, too. Simply by knowing more about your customers, and understanding what makes them tick, you can start to build experiences and products or services that really stand out. Perhaps that’s by dynamically reorganizing your website’s home page to better suit their preferences, and welcoming them by name. Or maybe it’s by sending a tailored gift to customers who post about you on social media.
Whatever the case, personalization goes a long way, and can form the bedrock of a strategy for routinely delighted customers.
Gather (and act on) customer feedback
Customer feedback is hugely important. Not only does it make customers feel valued and heard, but it provides you with a clear direction of travel and also a yardstick with which to measure customer delight.
We’ve mentioned the importance of listening to customers already, but there’s a difference between using tools that can understand the content of a support call or a Tweet, and soliciting regular feedback via customer surveys.
Likewise, while we stated at the top of this article that customer satisfaction is different from customer delight, it’s still really important to measure it as a metric – both so you can see how things are improving, and also because surveys like CSAT and NPS are fantastic ways to engage customers on the topic of how you can make things better for them.
CSAT and NPS surveys deliver a snapshot of the now that you can benchmark against your competitors and your past self, while qualitative fields in those surveys will let you know where your existing customers think you can improve.
And, as we know, improvement in the customer experience is your opportunity to exceed expectations. That’s exactly how you create customer delight.
Customer delight examples
In the last section, we talked about the cultural ways in which you can foster a customer-focused business – one where customer delight is part of the genetic makeup of the overall customer experience. But what about actual customer delight strategies?
If you need some ideas as to how you can keep loyal customers and excite new ones, here are a few suggestions…
If you know a customer has made an order, or if you can see existing or potential customers talking about your brand on social media, you can create customer delight by spontaneously sending them a personalized gift. It could be a freebie from your product line, a subscription discount, or even a care package. This can have a couple of great results.
— Jasmine Atherton (@jazmalek) November 5, 2019
Firstly, by demonstrating that you see them as a person instead of a number on a sales spreadsheet, and by doing something they know will cost you money, they’ll warm to you as a brand. Moreover, they might also share that positive experience with their followers – building word-of-mouth advocacy.
Long trial periods
Customers are often wary of making purchases – especially expensive ones – if they think they’ll be stuck with something they might not like. So you can delight your customers by offering a long, no-quibble money-back guarantee or returns policy.
Emma Mattresses 200-day trial
A great example of this in the B2C space is in the mattress market, where startup brands display their confidence via return periods often exceeding 200 days of full use. In the B2B space, this could be offering a three-month trial of a SaaS product before requiring a subscription. Both examples demonstrate that you believe in your product, sure, but they also makes the purchasing process and decision a much simpler one.
Rewarding rewards programs
Customer lifetime value is increased every time a customer returns and demonstrates loyalty. And loyalty can be fostered through a rewards program that shows just how much you value their custom.
Rewards programs can offer discounts that build up over time, free products after a certain number of orders, or – as with Amazon Prime – deliver extra value through a paid subscription. The key is to make them feel meaningful, rather than tokenistic.
Engage and reply
A surefire way to delight your customers is to speak to them. Nobody wants to be pushed into a sale, but in general, customers do want interaction and value from the brands they love. That could be as simple as using social listening tools to keep an ear out for potential posts your brand can comment on, or it might even mean getting involved in active discussions and communities that people might be surprised to find you entering.
What’s important is for any customer engagement to feel human, natural, and honest. Spotting messages that point to potential issues promptly, meanwhile, can help you reliably reduce customer churn at the same time.
Grow customer lifetime value by creating customer delight
Customer delight isn’t a quick win; it’s an ongoing aim. So it’s important to arm yourself with the right tools for the job. That means a customer experience management solution that can bridge informational gaps, scour through customer feedback and other data, and surface opportunities to brighten your customers’ day.
Customer delight begins with listening and understanding and ends with actionable insight. So you must have a tech stack capable of monitoring conversations across every touchpoint, providing unique customer delight opportunities, and measuring the success of your efforts.
In fact, it’s only when you measure customer delight – through the metrics it affects – that you can begin a new set of initiatives in the hope of bettering them.
You might often hear the phrase ‘attract, engage, delight’ mentioned as a cyclical process in both customer acquisition and retention. At its core, that mantra means that every part of the customer journey should impact the next and that the process of improving the customer experience is never a solved problem.
Get it right, though, and customer delight can become the engine room for a wealth of metrics that define business success, including customer lifetime value, retention, satisfaction, loyalty, and – ultimately – revenue.