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Customer Delight 101: 5 Ways to Surpass Expectations

Customer Delight 101: 5 Ways to Surpass Expectations

SurveyMonkey Customer SuccessAlmost everyone likes a surprise—as long as it’s a good one. Your customers are no different.

If you deliver for your customers while giving them something positive that they weren’t expecting, you’ll win a loyal advocate who will buy from you again—and tell their friends about you. That’s the basis of customer delight: not just meeting their expectations, but surpassing them.

But if you want to really spark customer delight you’re going to have to get creative and find out exactly what customers want. This is the hard part for most people.

Remember Trump Vodka? Trump Airlines? Trump Mortgage? No? You’re not alone. These are but a few examples of The Donald failing to understand what customers want.

“We want our music portable, on a pocket-sized device, and we don’t want to pay more than 99 cents per song,” consumers told Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Wait. What? In fact, it was Jobs who, with the invention of the iPod, told customers what they wanted even before they knew they wanted it.

Do customers know what they want or do you have to tell them? Studies show that customers care about 5 things in their customer service experience no matter the product or service:

  • Quality
  • Attitude
  • Goodwill
  • Personalization
  • Loyalty

Quality, not seconds, count

Yes, customers don’t like having their time squandered when dealing with a problem with a product or service they purchased. But what customers really care about is a great customer service experience—even if it takes a little longer.

RightNow’s Customer Experience Impact Report (2010) demonstrates the point. 85 percent of respondents to their survey said they would pay as much as 25 percent more to ensure a superior customer service experience. Some 40 percent of consumers switched to a competitor’s product because of its reputation for great customer service.

In other words, you don’t have to be fast to spark customer delight. Very few people, if any, said something like, “The customer service sucked but I was taken care of quickly.”

It’s all about the attitude

Employee attitudes are often key to making customers feel appreciated. A Gallup study showed that “lasting (“loyal”) relationships result from the culmination of regular contacts between customers and companies – and the net result of these ongoing interactions is an emotional connection that represents the bond between the customer and the company.”

If you’re a small business, it can be as simple as checking in with your most valued customers from time to time. It doesn’t take much to send your customers a card (maybe around the holidays?) to show you care.

And don’t forget follow-ups. What customers want is a great customer service experience – even if it takes a little longer or costs a little more.

“The speed of an individual interaction is far less relevant than its ability to cement the emotional attachment that the customer feels to the company,” Gallup’s research shows.

Goodwill, AKA the wow factor

That brings about what social psychologists sometimes refer to reciprocity: When a person is the benefactor of a small, unexpected act of kindness they often respond in kind—and then some.

If your employees exceed your customer expectations with a simple, random act of kindness – a “frugal wow,” you can generate a lot of goodwill and yes, customer delight.

It doesn’t take much.

Run a bed and breakfast? Try letting your tenants choose their favorite type of pillow. Trying to get your catering company noticed? Everyone likes free pie, especially when it’s a surprise.


Ever get your named spelled wrong on a Starbucks cup? It doesn’t exactly make you feel special. This is a perfect example of an area where small businesses can beat out on their larger competitors.

Don’t just learn how to spell customers’ names correctly, learn their names. Know their habits, what they like, and how they buy. Once you find out their habits, it’s easy to adapt your services to them.

Once again, it doesn’t have to be anything major. Little things go a long way toward customer delight. Customers don’t just love a personalized customer service experience, they adore it and they will reward it with increased revenues.

What’s in your loyalty program?

In their research into loyalty programs, Joseph C. Nunes and Xavier Drèze discovered what they called the Endowed Progress Effect or ‘artificial advancement.’ In short, if you give your customers a head start in your loyalty program, they will be more loyal.

The study tested two loyalty programs: one where eight stamps were needed to get a free car wash; and another where 10 stamps were needed to get a free wash BUT customers were given two free stamps toward the goal. Either way, a free car wash required eight visits but, by a margin of nearly two to one (34 percent vs. 19 percent) customers completed their cards if they got the two stamp bonus.

The other factor affecting customer loyalty is ‘status.’ It’s great to be a gold or platinum member of a loyalty program but, Nunes and Drèze discovered, it’s just as important that your ranking infer that your status is above others in the program. In other words, precious metal status is relatively meaningless unless there’s some copper or bronze bonehead beneath you.

You want customer loyalty, your customers want ease and status.

In the end, when it comes to providing customer service, more is better. When you delight your customers, the results can pay off for a lifetime.

Have your own ways for winning over customers hearts? Leave them in the comments below!

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