The Fallacy of Customer Delight


If you’re at all concerned with your customer experience, I’m sure you’ve heard (or read) about “delighting the customer.” This concept is bounced around as if it’s the panacea for all corporate ills: Simply delight the customer, and business will be booming.

I have to challenge that assumption and ask, “Do you really need to delight your customers?

Customer delight sounds good on the surface. Who wouldn’t want customers to express delight about the quality of service or the exceptional value provided by your products?

We all love to be delighted and creating experiences that delight our customers is not inherently wrong. However, making “delight” the aim of all aspects of customer engagement is simply the wrong goal for most businesses.

What Is Delight?

Think about it. When you’re really delighted, how do you feel? Euphoric? Giddy? Surprised? Picture a six-year old skipping around the yard upon receiving their first bike. Or a freshly engaged couple. The proud pet parents with a new puppy. That’s delight.

It’s a transitory emotion, brought on by an often unexpected, yet positive, turn of events. Delight is extreme satisfaction, a high degree of gratification. It’s a feeling that is difficult to sustain, one that would lose its power if it were a constant state. When delight becomes the norm the potency of the experience wanes, making the next high harder to achieve.

Instead of aiming to constantly create the ethereal “delight” experience, companies should target more enduring goals. Whether that emotion is called satisfaction or gratification or simply pleasure is less important than the fact the experience you create is both sustainable and enduring.

Delight Fades, Experience Endures

An optimal customer experience goes beyond delight to reinforce the brand and validate the buyer’s purchase decision. It must continue to connect the value of a product or service to the positive emotions associated with the experience long after the purchase transaction is complete. The customer experience must etch brand affinity into the mind of the buyer.

There are a number of factors that shape a highly desirable customer experience. I developed the SCORE model (Sincere, Consistent, Organic, Relevant and Enduring) for my clients to illustrate the five dimensions of a customer relationship that adds value for both the customer and the corporation.

Sincere: Customer interactions are not scripted and delivered with rote memorization in a cold and unfeeling way. Although templates may be used for training purposes, employees ultimately internalize the corporate attitude towards customers, and are able to deliver the ideal customer experience with sincerity and authenticity.

Consistent: The experience of a customer is consistent at every touch point, before, during and after the sale. This is not a cookie-cutter, one-size fits all approach. Instead, there is congruency across channels and departments in messaging, access, policies and the like, reinforcing both the brand and its value to customers.

Organic: The qualities of the customer experience emanate from deep within the organization. Interactions are a natural expression of internal attitudes and corporate philosophies about how customers should be treated. From the bottom to the top, employees can articulate what’s distinctive about the way their company caters to customers.

Relevant: The approach to customers is not driven solely by the corporation in a one-sided, take-it-or-leave mode. It considers customer needs and desires, creating experiences that are uniquely relevant to each customer. Customer interactions are flexible, tailored to the moment and the medium.

Enduring: Customer experience can be highly personal and intensely emotional, even in business-to-business environments. Customers often become passionate about brands, in either a positive and negative way. Successful, companies deliver not only transitory delight but also enduring satisfaction and memorable interactions.

Using my SCORE model as a benchmark, organizations can craft customer experiences that leave an indelible imprint on the minds of their customers. This fond memory of a mutually beneficial relationship contributes to customer loyalty, repurchase behavior, word of mouth and referrals. It builds brand equity and adds value to the bottom line.

Stop trying so hard to delight customers in a moment that will soon be forgotten. Equip your organization to SCORE a lasting impression instead, and they’ll do so over and over.

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