An extensive guide to customer delight

Customer delight is a relatively new term being used across the marketing world, and it’s no wonder the phrase has taken off! With new businesses being created every day, your customers are now facing more options than ever before when it comes to shopping online or in-store. So, how can you stand out from the crowd, build longer-lasting connections with your customers, and create memorable moments that really ‘wow’ your clients? That’s where customer delight comes in.

Below, we’ll take a look at what customer delight is, what its benefits are, and some ways that your business can start creating positive and emotive experiences for your customers.

What is customer delight?

Creating customer delight means surprising a customer with an experience that far exceeds their expectations. This creates a positive customer experience and brand perception, which will often lead to organic word-of-mouth referrals. Often, customer delight can even lead to customers promoting you on their social media accounts and sharing their experience with you. Sometimes, this form of customer feedback goes viral – this all contributes to your brand image and builds a good brand perception as people rush to your website.

So, the ultimate goal of creating customer delight is doing or producing something that directly addresses a customer’s wants, needs and interests. You want your customers to be so over the moon with their personalised and unique experience that they go out of their way to become advocates for your business.

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How is customer delight different to customer satisfaction?

While the above description could be mistaken for customer satisfaction, there is a crucial difference between the two terms.

Customer satisfaction is about keeping customers happy by meeting their expectations. Remember, this is no mean feat. Customer expectations are constantly evolving based on their experiences with brands at the forefront of online experiences. Some expectations we’re seeing more and more of include:

  • Fast and accessible live chat support (ideally extended hours or 24/7)
  • Omni-channel customer support, including speedy responses via email and social media
  • The ability to purchase seamlessly from multiple channels
  • Discount codes or a percentage off their purchase
  • Free and fast shipping

Meeting some or all of these expectations is still a stretch for most businesses. However, meeting these (now ‘basic’) expectations creates satisfied, happy customers, but doesn’t necessarily create loyal customers or brand advocates. While we’ll talk more below about how to create customer delight, the process involves going even further than just meeting expectations. It’s about surprising your customer, going truly above and beyond to deliver something special – and often unexpected – to build a long-term, positive relationship.

Why is customer delight important?

When a business creates an experience that goes above and beyond for their customer, the customer is far more likely to be brand loyal, having established a connection or relationship with the business. Loyal customers have a range of benefits to your business, including:

  • More organic referrals to friends, family, and colleagues
  • Less customer turnover and more retention
  • Lower marketing costs
  • Customers who are willing to pay more for your good service
  • Higher customer lifetime values (CLTV)
  • More robust customer relationships – where they are less likely to leave after one inconvenience
  • Customers who are far less likely to leave and purchase from your competitors

Another critical thing to remember is that it costs businesses 5-25 times more to obtain a new customer than to retain a current one. As well as the above perks, keeping hold of your current customers gives you plenty of opportunities to upsell, cross-sell and work with partner brands too.

How can you measure and monitor customer delight?

When thinking about customer delight, you should first set up some KPIs and responsibilities within your business. Who is responsible for driving customer delight? And don’t forget about prospective customers. If you can delight prospects before they convert into customers, you’ll be able to greatly enhance your conversion rates.

Instead of just being the responsibility of the customer service department, consider how other areas of your business such as the sales, marketing, product, and aftercare teams can drive this.

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Customer Delight Index

One such way to measure your customer delight is by using the Customer Delight Index. However, there isn’t a single question or magic phrase to gather this information – it’s generally customised to each business. This is a positive thing, as it can feed in seamlessly with your current customer feedback tools and methods such as reviews, surveys, feedback forms, focus groups, phone calls, and data from live chat.

Ask customers questions about their perception of your brand, the service quality, whether the product or service is worth the price, how did you (if you did) go above and beyond or what they would want next time to make their experience with your business a five-star one.

Start with a base metric by asking your current customers these questions. Then, collate the data and you should see some stand-out areas for improvement. Perhaps the shipping is too slow or too expensive, maybe your customer service team aren’t able to reply as quickly as customers would like, or maybe a lack of discount codes puts customers off buying as often as they might.

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Another way to measure overall client satisfaction with your business is using CSAT or the customer satisfaction score. This can be applied to any question which measures customer satisfaction.

The responses are usually on the following scale:

  1. Very unsatisfied
  2. Unsatisfied
  3. Neutral
  4. Satisfied
  5. Very satisfied

Each result is then averaged to give an overall score, which is turned into a percentage. 100% represents the most satisfied customers, where 0% represents the most dissatisfied customers.

While customer satisfaction isn’t the same as customer delight, the two will often correlate, allowing you to take a two-fold approach to gaining feedback. For example, you may find recurring problems with package delivery, service quality or high pricing. If these issues appear as a result of your CSAT and Customer Delight Index monitoring, you’ll have clear-cut priorities to address to improve this in the future.

Churn rate

Put simply, your churn rate is a reflection of how many customers have stopped using your products or services in a given time period. A key metric when monitoring your business success, you’ll want to frequently review your churn rate to gauge the effect of your customer delight measures, and whether they are helping you to retain customers.

6 ways to drive customer delight

Now we’ve covered what customer delight means and how to measure it, let’s run through some of the ways that you can start to drive customer delight in your business.

1. Listen to your customers

The very first step to driving customer delight is by listening to your customers. Many businesses that are struggling end up ignoring client feedback (inadvertently) and the things that their customers are really asking for. Instead of making things easier for the customer, they may instead focus on pushing out a new product, an updated website or a new feature. By doing so, some customers may think you’re not listening to their feedback or addressing their wants and needs effectively. This can lead to customers turning into detractors and leaving your business for a competitor brand.

Now, there is such a wide range of methods for gathering customer feedback that it’s inexcusable to not be listening to your customers. Let’s look at ‘VoC’ to see the ways in which you can gather insights from your customers and clients and act upon them.

VoC or Voice of Customer helps businesses to identify and action what customers are saying based on their feedback. However, it’s not just about listening to one-off comments and opinions, VoC is all about gaining a better understanding of a customer’s wants, needs, expectations, emotions, likes, perceptions and more.

You can gather valuable VoC insights by:

  • Looking at your social media, and the comments and engagements from others – whether they are current customers, ex-customers or prospects: As well as your own social media, review what’s being posted on your competitor’s platforms too, as this might give you some pointers for where they’re going wrong that you can capitalise on
  • Social listening: Social listening gives you the ability to ‘listen in’ on social media conversations – only those posted publicly, of course – and mentions to see what customers might be saying about you to their followers
  • Following up or showing a quick pop-up after a live chat or customer service conversation: This can help you understand how helpful the customer service agent was, how quickly the issue was resolved and whether they were satisfied with your customer service
  • As well as obtaining information from your customers, you can also review their phone calls and live chats: Invest in a tool that allows you to review transcripts to identify frequently asked questions and frequent issues that your customers are facing
  • Analysing reviews: As a rule of thumb, you should respond to all reviews anyway – whether these are left on your website, a third-party review site or elsewhere. However, consider using something like Feefo’s sentiment analysis tool to better understand the overall themes, phrases and topics that are raised frequently by your customers
  • Asking your customers a range of questions using surveys, feedback forms, focus groups or interviews: This will also give you a dataset to analyse the wide range of feedback

Remember that VoC insights should be listened to and acted on.

Mark Wilson, CEO of business innovation consultancy Wilson Fletcher, says it’s also how you interpret the information you’re given, considering both what customers say they want and need, and understanding what they might need in the future.

He explains, ‘if you’re seeing CX innovations crop up beyond your industry then consider working this into your own offering. Amazon didn’t only impact our expectations of booksellers with their next-day delivery: they reset our expectations of every service.’

2. Start with the basics

If you’re just getting started on your journey to creating customer delight, you’ll need to start meeting customer expectations in order to exceed them. By taking the insights from your work in the first step, then you can get the rest of your customer experience up to scratch.

This could include:

  • A more intuitive website
  • Faster, longer or more accessible customer service availability
  • A reduction in shipping costs
  • Clearer signposting on the website
  • Marketing that better reflects what you do
  • Product or service improvements
  • A more consistent experience across platforms
  • Help guides and online tools to support and automate customer issues

That’s not to say that you can’t start driving customer delight without these things in place, but it’s counterintuitive to try to drive a customer experience that exceeds expectations without the basics in place. Of course, you don’t need to address all of these things – prioritise the two or three initial things that you can invest in, and change based on your customer feedback and research.

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Marie Cross, Training Director at First Impression Training, helps to build positive customer relationships every day. She talks about the importance of getting the basics right: ‘It’s worth remembering that, whether you’re starting from base level to ensure customer satisfaction or you’re aiming for the stars and looking to delight your customers and prospects, there’s one vital differentiator you can capitalise on, so that you show up and stand out from your competition, and that vital differentiator is your frontline staff.

‘People buy people first, so it’s your workforce that are the true USP in the organisation, because they make the difference to your customers’ experience – whether you’re aiming to satisfy or delight them. Make sure you invest in that vital ingredient in your recipe of success (as well as in your sales and marketing efforts), because your brand ambassadors are the face and voice and word of your brand – and they can make or break customer loyalty to it.

‘84% of a customer’s experience is emotional, so it makes sense to focus your frontline staff on surprising and delighting your customers (and prospects) at every opportunity.’

3. Deliver something that exceeds expectations

Now the basics are in place, it’s a good time to start creating those unexpected moments that delight your customers.

The following ideas are relatively low-cost and applicable to most businesses:

  • Loyalty programmes such as exclusive VIP customer groups with previews and input on future products
  • Giving the customer service team autonomy to offer discount codes and money-off vouchers – not just to unhappy customers, but to kind customers too!
  • Asking or paying customers for focus groups or feedback – showing that their comments and opinions are heard and considered
  • Offering free gifts, samples, or surprise treats in packages
  • Adding handwritten notes to orders to thank customers for their purchases
  • Engaging with and communicating with customers on social media and sharing their UGC (user-generated content)

Here are some examples of successful ways that brands exceed customer expectations:

Lush

For several years now, Lush have had the Pay It Forward campaign running in their stores. This gives their employees the discretion to give away free full-sized products to their customers as they’re shopping in-store. This is accompanied by a Pay It Forward card, encouraging them to complete their own act of kindness for another person.

Pret A Manger

Similarly to Lush, Pret employees can give out free drinks to customers who they think deserve it or could benefit from it – or anyone who is extra kind! While a free coffee may not sound like a huge benefit, it’s often a moment that really makes someone’s day.

Sephora

Beauty brands such as Sephora have an unrivalled (at the time of writing this!) loyalty scheme, which instead of offering money off or free gifts based on points, offers their customers experiences such as in-store beauty services, free beauty classes, and their choice of a birthday gift.

Jennie Gerum, CMO at Voyado, says, ‘There is so much choice available to today’s customers that the traditional markers of quality and price only go so far in helping your brand to stand out from competitors. In today’s hyper competitive landscape, brands must capture the undivided loyalty of their customers to keep them coming back time and time again. Customers need to feel valued, seen and appreciated as individuals and within their communities to stay loyal. They will choose to connect with the brands that can recognise and respond to their values – and to achieve this, brands must offer advanced personalisation.

 

‘Just as a human marketer might learn about a person from observing their behaviour, software can review a person’s past behaviour and predict what products, offers and opportunities they might be most interested in. Advanced personalisation is more than just a competitive advantage, it’s an essential part of doing business.’

The examples above show that creating unexpected moments of delight doesn’t have to cost the earth, but they are likely to create positive feelings, warm emotions and deeper connections with your customers.

4. Make it personal

To drive longer-term relationships with your customers, try to personalise as much of the experience for them as possible. Research has also shown that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand that creates personalised experiences.

Personalisation ideas might include:

  • Including customer’s names in communications
  • Remembering their preferences and applying these to their journey on your website
  • (For pet brands or children’s brands) Addressing the pet or child in communications, rather than the parent or owner
  • Having authentic customer service conversations and interactions, rather than robotic responses
  • Creating marketing communications that take their preferences into account

A good example of this – which has been more widely adopted recently – is businesses asking their customers if they’d like to opt-out of certain communications. This started in 2019 with online florists, Bloom & Wild. This could include Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, or other holidays where some individuals may struggle. By personalising and tailoring communications to your audience in his way, your customers will feel warm emotions and a connection with your brand – because you care about their feelings and wellbeing.

5. Provide a consistent experience

A great way of providing a positive customer journey is by creating a consistent experience across channels. While a one-off freebie from a generous customer service agent would be welcomed, the effect of this can be easily undone in another interaction with your brand.

For example, if the first interaction is positive, warm, and friendly and ends in a one-off free gift or voucher, and their second interaction with your brand is cold, negative and unwelcoming, this can be jarring. Another frequently experienced example is receiving a warm and welcoming approach before purchasing, to feel ignored and forgotten about once the purchase has been made.

Jennie Gerum of Voyado believes that physical and online experiences aren’t in conflict; they’re connected. ‘In retail – customers don’t see the two ways of shopping as entirely detached channels, but rather two ways of accessing the same underlying brand experience – and so brands should work harder to bring the two channels together by applying data.

 

‘Brands without an e-commerce function can still take advantage of contemporary technology to gather data and increase personalisation, creating loyalty schemes to entice people back into their physical stores with discounts on the items they’ve been pining for.’

It’s therefore important that the consistently warm customer service approach is adopted by all those who represent your brand and is also applied to the same level across all channels, before and after purchasing.

6. Build knowledge bases and communities

Google any large business operating online, and you’re likely to find at least one customer hub, community, or knowledge base.

A knowledge base is an area of your website where people can self-serve and find most of the information they need, without having to get in touch with a member of staff. This is a great way for businesses to automate some of their customer service and gives customers the opportunity to find relevant information 24/7. These are often used for SaaS products, online services, or physical products at, for example, Google, Facebook, and Sky.

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A community is usually built in a way that not only allows customers to engage and interact with each other, but also allows prospects, new customers and old customers to ask for, read and share advice. Sometimes these are an extension of the knowledge base, such as with Google’s support, or these can be a separate entity.

Overall, customer delight is the next step up from creating customer satisfaction. By simply listening to and interacting with your customers, you can create personalised experiences, better address customer wants and needs, and find opportunities to go above and beyond. With online competition harder to combat than ever before, investing in customer delight is critical for businesses that want to thrive.


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