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Updated Oct 23, 2023

How Customer Delight Will Keep Them Coming Back

Customer delight extends beyond customer satisfaction. It's those little things that wow your customer base and show you care.

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Donna Fuscaldo, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Being memorable is one of the keys to business success, but achieving this standard is challenging and requires significant finesse. Customer delight is a crucial element of making your business memorable. Customer delight goes beyond providing excellent products and services and solid customer support. It’s showing you care in ways that surprise customers. Customer-delight elements can be as simple as a handwritten note or as extravagant as a special event.

Delighting customers doesn’t have strict rules; it comes from understanding your clients and showing you care. We’ll share more about customer delight and how you can implement this customer care standard into your business plan.

What is customer delight?

Customer delight involves various practices or habits that prioritize customer satisfaction beyond just fulfilling an order or delivering a service. It entails going above and beyond to spark joy in customers, build customer loyalty and compel them to return to your brand for repeat purchases.

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

If done right, these practices leave 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.

Did You Know?Did you know
Customer-delight standards can attract "hyperadoptive customers" — power users who embrace innovation and new products and can give your business a competitive advantage.

How do you achieve customer delight?

Achieving customer delight doesn’t have to be costly. It’s about going the extra mile in unique and ever-changing ways. 

“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,'” explained 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 to know 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 noted. “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’s crucial to note that customer satisfaction and customer delight are not the same. Karen Donaldson, a communication and body language expert, said being “satisfied” equates 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. If they are delighted, it’s not so easy for them to find somewhere else to spend their money. Loyalty doesn’t come from giving customers the status quo but from going above and beyond to surpass their expectations.

“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.

Why does customer delight matter?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, customer delight was a nice add-on. Now, it’s practically a necessity. While the pandemic may be behind us, its impact on customer service is ongoing because it completely shifted the way we approach customer delight. Here are four benefits of creating customer delight.

1. Customer-delight standards show customers you care.

Customers tend to be loyal to businesses that appreciate them. If you go above and beyond to show customers that you appreciate their business, they’ll be more loyal to your brand in good and bad times. 

Going above and beyond means 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.

Create customer surveys to ascertain customers' needs and desires, and use this feedback to implement changes that resonate with your user base.

2. Customers become your promoters when they’re delighted.

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways 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, and that referral is more powerful than an ad campaign.

3. Customer delight 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. Achieving customer-delight standards protects your reputation.

Your business is only as good as its reputation. Negative customer reviews and social media complaints can hurt your sales. Achieving customer delight among your clients will cushion the blow of bad reviews. You’ll create brand ambassadors who believe in your company and will likely defend you against negative comments.

Did You Know?Did you know
Think of your customer-delight efforts as a customer retention strategy. Going the extra mile to show your customers you appreciate them will keep them around — and save you money.

Who is responsible for delighting customers?

Every customer-facing employee in your company is responsible for creating customer delight. Larger businesses may have a team focused solely on wowing customers, but at small businesses, it’s everyone’s job.

The idea is to create customer delight in every customer engagement aspect of your business, from the phone lines to social media. Everyone in the company should know they must 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.

What are some tips to delight your customers?

How you delight your customers will depend on your business, industry, customer type and other factors. However, these customer-delight tips apply to any business: 

  • Devise meaningful surprises. There are endless ways to wow and surprise your customers with personalized touches. For example, a credit card company might provide VIP tickets to exclusive events, or an e-commerce merchant might include a handwritten thank-you note with each order. Delighting your customers requires you to be purposeful with your actions. Any time you have the opportunity, add a personalized touch to express gratitude to your customers and spark joy. “Think about your customers and what it is you’re doing,” DeBroff advised. “What can you do to catch them by surprise?”
  • Experiment with different offerings. Mix it up when you’re surprising your customers and finding ways to delight them. For example, if you run a restaurant, a free cookie might work the first time, but you shouldn’t stop there. Keep your customers on their toes by hosting events, providing various specials and preparing new offerings that elicit excitement. 
  • Pay attention to what works. While you should experiment with your offerings, pay close attention to what works. If an event or giveaway elicits a great response from your customers, build on it and create similar experiences.
  • Focus on customer response times. Setting hold- and response-time limits is an easy and low-cost way to delight customers. Consumers remember the companies that didn’t keep them on hold for too long or got right back to them. For example, if you operate a restaurant, set a goal to greet and seat customers in less than five minutes to delight them and boost word of mouth. If you offer product support, providing 24-hour live customer service is a great way to wow customers. “People like to speak to people, especially when they need help,” Donaldson noted. “This elicits the feeling of being valued and cared for.”
  • Offer surprise gifts or extras. Delight customers by including unexpected extras with their orders, mailing personalized surprise gifts, or offering discounts on their 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.”
Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Delight customers with a well-thought-out customer loyalty program that rewards them with VIP perks, like line skipping and exclusive options.

How do you measure customer delight?

Creating customer delight can take time and some trial and error, and it requires customer feedback. It’s not enough to include a handwritten thank-you note with the order; you must determine the impact of that move by measuring your success.

Majcher advised starting by creating a current customer satisfaction baseline. Take a quick customer survey of your customers to determine if your service is great, OK or needs improvement. Throw in some open-ended questions about customers’ expectations or where they’d like to see improvements. 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 advised. “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.”

Keep your customers coming back

Your business’s primary goal should be to satisfy and delight your customers enough to encourage their return. Customer retention isn’t easy in today’s highly competitive market, but going above and beyond will leave a lasting impression on your customers. The above customer-delight tactics can help build customer loyalty and foster a more personalized experience.

Sammi Caramela contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version.

author image
Donna Fuscaldo, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Donna Fuscaldo has spent 25 years immersed in the intersecting worlds of business, finance and technology. As an expert on business borrowing, funding and investing, she counsels small business owners on business loans, accounting and retirement benefits. For more than two decades, her trusted insights and analysis have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Bankrate, Investopedia, Motley Fool, Fox Business and AARP. In addition, Fuscaldo has used her personal and professional experience to provide guidance on employment matters for the likes of Glassdoors and others. With a bachelor of science in communication arts and journalism, she is skilled at breaking down complex subjects related to business and careers for practical application.
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