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Customer Delight: The New Standard in Customer Service

Updated Nov 07, 2023

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Sean Peek
Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership at business.com
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On the face of it, using “customer delight” instead of “customer satisfaction” to describe the new standard in customer service might seem like the latest fad or buzzword. However, understanding the  nuances between these phrases can be the difference between delivering a positive experience to a one-time patron and creating — and retaining — a lifelong customer.

Customer delight is the highest level of customer satisfaction that can be achieved. When used effectively, customer delight can help boost brand loyalty among your customer base, leading to ample growth opportunities. Some argue it’s more cost-effective to avoid bad service rather than provide top-tier service. There’s even an argument that the purpose of business is not to satisfy the customer, but rather to satisfy all stakeholders in the business. 

Nevertheless, customer delight is a key avenue for businesses to explore, especially when aiming to foster a positive customer experience and develop long-term customer relationships. 

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What is customer delight and why is it important?

Customer delight is more than just making a customer satisfied with your products or services — it occurs when the client’s expectations are exceeded. A client wants to be considered throughout the entire customer journey, not just to the end of the sale. One way to demonstrate this is by finding clever and unprompted ways to exceed customer expectations. 

In catering to customers’ needs and striving to delight them, the positive experience your business provides can lead to an array of benefits, from improved brand loyalty and reduced customer churn to more opportunities for upselling and getting customer referrals.

FYIDid you know

Free surprise gifts with any purchase and birthday coupons are two examples of ways a company can achieve customer delight.

Who is responsible for delighting customers?

All employees and managers play a part in delighting customers, although some departments are naturally positioned to have a greater impact. In particular, people-focused teams, such as customer service, sales and marketing — those trained to interact directly with customers at the forefront of your business — should ensure that each person on your customer journey is delighted, from prospective leads to actual buyers. Since these team members engage with customers regularly, they’re most in tune with customer preferences and requirements, offering valuable perspectives on the unique ways customers want to be treated.

While it’s important to prioritize customer delight, make sure you’re considering other aspects of your business as well. Collaborative efforts can keep customer delight high, but a company shouldn’t go overboard to achieve that, as free products, refunds and free services only marginally improve brand loyalty. Aim to delight your customers, but don’t get taken advantage of in the process.

>> Learn More: Southwest Airlines: A Case Study in Great Customer Service

What does it mean to provide delight to your customers?

There’s no one way to delight customers — knowing your customer base and their individual needs and wants will help you offer an above-and-beyond experience. In doing so, your business can establish long-term customer relationships and turn consumers into loyal brand advocates, as 93 percent of consumers stated they would likely make a repeat purchase from a company that offers excellent customer service, according to Zippia.

Businesses can provide delight to customers through various methods, such as establishing a like-minded community — whether on social media or through in-store events and gatherings — delivering instantaneous yet authentic and personalized help via support features, or by offering valuable solutions to customers’ problems based on their feedback. 

Regardless of how you choose to delight customers, ensure that your tactics are relevant to your audience and will benefit them. When you successfully exceed your customer’s expectations, you can reap the benefits of customer loyalty, which in turn leads to increased sales and opportunities for growth. [Read related article: Why Efficient Customer Service is Better Than Friendly]

7 key principles to customer delight

1. Understand the difference between customer satisfaction and customer delight.

You satisfy your customers when you give them something they expect. You delight them when you give them something they didn’t expect.

The classic example is the auto repair service that washes your car when they’re done fixing it. You go to pick up your car and find that it not only runs better, but it also looks great. Most people don’t leave the auto repair shop with a smile on their face, but you can change that.

Here’s another example: a customer calls to complain about a product defect. You satisfy the customer when you immediately offer to have the customer return the defective product and replace it at no charge, with no return shipping costs. You delight the customer when you add a $25 gift certificate toward the purchase of another of your products.

Steve Curtan, author of Delight Your Customers, says that 80 percent of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service, but only 8 percent of customers think so. You want your customers to have no doubt, no matter what else happens, that you went beyond the call of duty to take care of them.

2. Develop a knowledgeable customer service staff.

You can tell when a customer service representative is scrolling through a screen to find the answer to your question. When customers call customer service, they expect to reach someone who is knowledgeable and able to resolve their issues. [Explore the costs of training your customer service team].

Customer service staff must be sufficiently competent to provide some “wow factor,” pleasantly surprising the customer with the following factors:

  • Speed of response
  • Not having the customer waiting on hold; not having them navigate complicated voice prompts to talk to a representative
  • Immediate identification of the problem and a responsive solution
  • A display of technical/professional knowledge that indicates the representative clearly knows what to do and how to do it
  • The ability to get something done without needing to consult a manager or colleague

3. Surprise your customers, and do the unexpected.

If you’re late paying your bill, it’s no surprise when you get a reminder that you’re overdue. But wouldn’t you be pleasantly surprised if you received a letter or email out of the blue to thank you for your regular prompt payment (along with a coupon for 10 percent off your next order)?

Turn the mundane into a unique experience through surprise-and-delight marketing, which involves finding ways to exceed customers’ expectations without asking for anything in return. This method of marketing can be instrumental in elevating your brand’s perception among customers. According to a Sendoso survey, 24 percent of respondents said that offering unexpected gifts to customers is the best way to develop a connection with them.

4. Let Maya Angelou be your guide.

Maya Angelou was a poet, not a businessperson, but people in business like to repeat her quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

5. Gather feedback on your business’ customer delight.

A great way to assess customer delight over your products and services is to use a customer delight index. You can use a wide range of feedback tools, such as interviews, surveys and focus groups to measure your success.

No matter what tools you use, make sure to ask customers for their feedback on your product or service quality, communication, friendliness and customer support. This will help you to continually improve your business and increase your customer delight moving forward.

6. Solve your customers’ problems, in the present and the future.

Offer solutions to your potential and current customers’ problems,or help them achieve a goal. Make sure your solutions are personalized to fit their individual needs and preferences.

While quick and effective customer solutions are great in the short term, it is important to go beyond immediate solutions to provide customers with information, ways to help them manage their challenges, and — if possible — teach them to do so on their own. This can help you solve your customers’ future problems too.

TipBottom line

Provide your customers with educational resources, recommendations and tools for success by writing educational blog posts, sharing tips on social media and creating a self-service knowledge base.

7. Be timely in your responses.

A big part of customer delight is making sure you respond to your customers quickly. This lets them know that you care and that addressing their questions or concerns is a priority for you. Even if the issue is not one that you can solve right away, letting your customers know you are working on it will show them that you are listening to them and care about their satisfaction.

A great tool to use for maintaining customer relationships is customer relationship management (CRM) software. The best CRM solutions help record and log all emails and other forms of communication, as well as set up reminders to check in with customers who are having specific issues. You can also use tools like a shared inbox, which is used for conversational marketing, and sync it with your customer service cases and your CRM so you can be up-to-date with all communications.

What is an example of customer delight?

Customer delight can be achieved through marketing promotions. For instance, sending a surprise gift with every purchase could produce customer delight. Mailing out a free promotional product or coupon on a customer’s birthday is another example.

Sean Peek
Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership at business.com
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.
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