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How Customer Delight Will Keep Them Coming Back

Donna Fuscaldo
Donna Fuscaldo
Senior Finance Writer

Customer delight can increase your sales and improve your brand reputation among current and potential customers.

  • To keep customers loyal and coming back, you must create customer delight.
  • Customer delight extends beyond customer satisfaction. It's those little things that wow your customer base and show you care.
  • Customers who are delighted with your business will not only be loyal, but also become your brand ambassadors against negative reviews and comments.
  • This article is for any business owners looking to delight their customers.

Being memorable is the key to success, but this can be difficult to achieve. It requires a lot of finesse, which is where customer delight comes in. Customer delight goes beyond providing great products and services and solid customer support. It's showing you care in out-of-the-blue ways that surprise customers. It can be as simple as a handwritten note or as extravagant as a special event.

"Customer delight occurs when you create feelings of unexpected joy and delight that leads people to not only feel positive about the company but also spread the word," Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of marketing company Influence Central, told Business News Daily. "Media and brands are constantly thinking of ways to delight customers."

Delighting customers isn't rules-based science. It comes from understanding your clients and showing you care. However, there are general guidelines you can follow for success.

What is customer delight?

Achieving customer delight doesn't have to be costly. It's about going the extra mile in unique and ever-changing ways. If done right, it leaves customers so delighted that they clamor for more. They become your brand ambassadors, spreading the word about your business and how you've surpassed their expectations.

"To achieve customer delight, the customer has to be able to say the business got all of the basics nailed and did something so uncommonly great the customer would've said the equivalent of an out-loud 'no way,'" said Marley Majcher, CEO of corporate event planning firm The Party Goddess. "'No way' moments happen when the customer's life was made so much easier in such an unexpected way they are compelled to shout it from the rooftops."

The key to wowing customers is knowing them. If you don't know your customers, your efforts to delight them will fail.

The process of creating customer delight will be unique to your business. For one travel credit card company, it meant creating virtual events when travel came to a halt during the pandemic. For an e-commerce merchant, it meant throwing a surprise product into an order or including a handwritten thank-you note.

"It's really about giving customers an experience that triggers a burst of brand enthusiasm, which increases affinity and loyalty," DeBroff said. "It's not about the price; it's about something unexpected to recognize their loyalty."

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Customer delight occurs when you give your clients extras that make them smile. It's about building brand loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals from a thrilled customer.

What's the difference between customer delight and customer satisfaction?

It is important to note that customer satisfaction and customer delight are not the same.

Karen Donaldson, a celebrity communication and body language expert, said being satisfied is equal to receiving decent customer service.

"When customers purchase, they expect decent customer service," Donaldson said. "Customer delight means to exceed expectations and make a lasting impression."

If you keep your customers satisfied, it's still easy for them to leave. It's not so easy for them to find somewhere else to spend their money if they are delighted. Loyalty doesn't come from giving customers the status quo, but from going above and beyond to surpass their expectations. [Check out our best picks page if you need help choosing the best CRM software for your business.]

"The reality is that customers and clients who feel good and feel that they are appreciated will return, invest more, and refer other customers," Donaldson said.

Did You Know?Did you know? Providing good customer service isn't the same as creating customer delight. Satisfied customers are willing to leave; delighted customers aren't.

Why does customer delight matter?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, customer delight was a nice add-on. Now, it's practically a necessity. During the pandemic, small businesses had two choices: pivot to a new business model or stay the course and hold on to the customers they already had. Those who took the latter route had no choice but to delight customers.

"Customer delight has become the way through this global meltdown, where so many of us have seen our revenue plummet," Majcher said.

From eliciting warm feelings to building loyalty, here are four benefits to creating customer delight.

1. They know you care.

Customers tend to be loyal to the businesses that appreciate them. If you go above and beyond to show you appreciate their business, they'll be more loyal to your brand in good and bad times. This requires listening to your customers and responding to their complaints and desires. By paying attention to them, you'll find opportunities to delight them and enhance your relationships.

2. They become your promoters.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the cheapest and arguably most effective way to promote your business, and delighting your customers is a natural way to achieve it. Delighted customers tend to share their excitement with friends, family and others in their network. They might share an update or post a tweet praising the brand. That referral is more powerful than an ad campaign.

3. It increases customer spending.

Customers tend to spend more with the companies that make them happy. The more you delight them, the more they are apt to spend.

4. It protects your reputation.

Your business is only as good as its reputation. A bad review on Yelp or several complaints on social media can have a negative impact on your sales. If you give your customers delight, it will cushion the blow from any bad reviews. You have brand ambassadors who believe in your company and will likely defend you against negative comments.

TipTip: During the pandemic, customer delight has become a necessity for small businesses to survive. If you have taken the approach of customer retention rather than changing your business model to adapt, you need to go the extra mile to show your customers you appreciate them.

Who is responsible for delighting customers?

Creating customer delight is the responsibility of every customer-facing employee in your company. Larger businesses may have a team focused solely on wowing customers, but for small businesses, the job is everyone's.

The idea is to create customer delight in every aspect of your business, from the phone lines to social media. Everyone in the company should know they need to surpass expectations throughout the customer's journey. Whether a customer interacts with a sales representative, engages with your brand on Instagram, opens a package from you, or calls customer service, they should be delighted with the experience.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Customer delight is the responsibility of all customer-facing employees. In big companies, there may be a team dedicated to it; in a small business, it's up to every member of the company.

What are some tips to delight your customers?

There are endless ways to wow and surprise your customers. It can be as extravagant as the credit card company that provides VIP tickets to exclusive events or simple as the e-commerce merchant that includes a handwritten thank-you note with each order. Either way, it has to be meaningful.

"Think about your customers and what it is you're doing," DeBroff said. "What can you do to catch them by surprise?"

Make sure to mix it up. If you run a restaurant, for example, a free cookie might work the first time. But after that, it must be different.

An easy and low-cost way to delight customers is to set hold and response time limits. Consumers remember the companies that didn't keep them on hold for too long or got right back to them. If you operate a restaurant, setting a goal to greet and seat customers in under five minutes is an easy way to delight them and boost word of mouth. Providing 24-hour live customer service can also wow customers.

"People like to speak to people, especially when they need help," Donaldson said. "This elicits the feeling of being valued and cared for."

Other easy ways to delight customers are including unexpected extras with their orders and mailing personalized surprise gifts or offering discounts on customers' birthdays and other special dates.

"I have a client who has a specific customer experience strategy," Donaldson said. "She finds out what new clients like to do in their leisure time and sends them a customized gift based on that. She once had a client who loved to barbecue, and she sent him a set of barbecue utensils with his initials engraved on it."

How do you measure customer delight?

Creating customer delight can take time. It's a strategy of trial and error to get it right. But you can't do it in a vacuum; it requires customer feedback. It's not enough to include a handwritten thank-you note with the order; you must determine the impact from that move, which is where measuring your success comes in.

Majcher said to start by creating a baseline of your current customer satisfaction. Take a quick survey of your customers to find out if the service is OK, great, or needs improvement. Throw in a couple of open-ended questions about their expectations or what they want to see improve. Once you have this customer feedback, you can pinpoint the areas that could use some customer delight and test the waters there.

"If half of those surveyed say they'd love Saturday pickup, well, try it," Majcher said. "But then, survey again. How are the numbers? Did the Saturday pickup really hang the sun and the moon for them? If the response wasn't as enthusiastic as you expected, keep poking until you really hit the sweet spot."

Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Donna Fuscaldo
Donna Fuscaldo
Business News Daily Staff
See Donna Fuscaldo's Profile
Donna Fuscaldo is a senior finance writer at business.com and has more than two decades of experience writing about business borrowing, funding, and investing for publications including the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Bankrate, Investopedia, Motley Fool, and Foxbusiness.com. Most recently she was a senior contributor at Forbes covering the intersection of money and technology before joining business.com. Donna has carved out a name for herself in the finance and small business markets, writing hundreds of business articles offering advice, insightful analysis, and groundbreaking coverage. Her areas of focus at business.com include business loans, accounting, and retirement benefits.