Customer delight: What it is — and 5 ways to implement it

By Woven Agency, Tuesday August 23, 2022

So the prevailing wisdom goes, it costs five times more to win a customer than it does to keep one.

And while debate rages (well, gently simmers) as to how true this oft-claimed insight is, it stands to reason that keeping clients is every bit as important as capturing them. As Bain & Co reported for the financial industry (as just one example): ‘a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.’

The benefits of keeping customers, therefore, is quite clear — and the best way to do it? Through sheer delight.

What is customer delight?

Customer delight is when you exceed expectations to deliver an unexpectedly good brand or product experience. 

It’s not just the icing on the birthday cake, it’s the personalised message written on it and the ‘Happy Birthday’ serenade from a barbershop quartet. It’s the extra mile — and the extra attention to detail — you devote to a customer experience designed to live long in the memory.

The flywheel

How customer delight fits into your marketing strategy is best illustrated by the flywheel. Whereas the traditional sales funnel focuses on getting leads in at the top and finishing with a fully paid-up customer, the flywheel goes a step further and encourages brands to turn strangers into long-term loyalists. The end aim is to have customers actively promoting your brand, encouraging friends, family and internet denizens to get involved.

The flywheel maintains the importance of the funnel’s user journey but adds an extra — and vital — part of successful marketing: customer retention and advocacy. This creates a repeating circle where customers become pamphleteers of your brand. And there’s no stronger form of marketing than word of mouth. 

How do you delight your customers?

Building a culture of customer delight

Customer delight looks very different depending on where you sit in the business — and what type of business you’re in. 

An accountant firm sending out a 2023 calendar with next year’s key financial dates ringed around it is a much different way of executing customer delight than a luxury retail employee who puts a subtle spray of Chanel No. 5 in every bag. 

Customer delight is a company-wide process, so must come from a culture built to empower it.

But no matter how different the end result is, the idea to delight a client can come from anywhere — which means it’s a management responsibility to foster a culture that promotes ‘delightful’ ideas (and rewards where those ideas come from).

Once you have that kind of culture, customer delight can manifest in all kinds of ways. Starting with not leaving customers hanging…

  1. Respond quickly

One of the simplest ways to delight your customers is to be responsive. Whether they have a question about your service or about their order, you can show their importance to you by replying quickly. Even if you don’t have the answer right away, a holding message saying that you’re working on it will always be much appreciated. 

As it is in any relationship, clear, timely and relevant communication is key. Having a CRM like HubSpot helps you manage your customer relationships and gives you easy, team-wide access to your comms history, so you can respond quickly and in a way that’s more meaningful to the client. A good CRM will also give you access to a chatbot, so your online users can get a response from you out of normal office hours.

  1. Take it personally

Personalisation is paramount when it comes to your brand sounding like a human instead of a faceless corporation. Little things like using people’s first names in emails and addressing their specific situations and concerns will make them feel like you’re taking them seriously, and not fobbing them off with cookie-cutter communications. 

Again, a company-wide CRM that gives your team a detailed customer profile will help you create more meaningful marketing. For example, understanding someone’s buying history might mean you can recommend more relevant products and promotions to them in the future, improving both their experience of your brand and your conversion rate. 

  1. Reward loyalty

Companies often focus on giving new customers preferential prices and promotions. But what about those who have already bought from you? Going back to the idea that it’s more important to keep customers than win them, it makes sense to reward loyal shoppers and clients as much as you reward new ones. 

Delighting your customers should be an exercise in creative expression.

Plenty of retailers — from bookstores to coffee shops — offer loyalty cards that reward repeat custom.

But what if you went that bit further? Instead of offering a free medium-sized cappuccino, you make it a large — and throw in some carrot cake at half the usual cost. Instead of offering a £10 book voucher, you give your loyal shopper a signed copy of a book written by their favourite author. And instead of offering a test drive of the latest Continental to an existing Bentley customer, you offer a test weekend with it.

Not that building loyalty through customer delight has to be a big thing. In fact, it’s the little surprises — the moments that make you raise your eyebrows in appreciation — that often matter the most (and are easier for brands to enact). 

  1. Listen to feedback

Listening to criticism isn’t easy, but it’s an essential part in improving your service — and making your customers’ opinions feel valued. At Woven, we ask our clients every week whether we were a 5-star service. Not just to hear their glowing reports (although that does make us feel warm and fuzzy inside), but to find out if our clients have any issues so that we can quickly move to resolve them.

Responding to negative feedback — or bad news — is also a great opportunity to show your human side and have your brand emerge from the problem stronger than before it happened. KFC pulled this off with aplomb with their ‘Sorry’ campaign

Don’t ignore constructive criticism. Treat it as a learning tool — a brand bug-fix to make your offering even stronger.

Of course, you won’t be able to respond to all unsolicited feedback, but a word of warning: if you’re going to ask for feedback from your community, be sure to act on it. Few things will alienate your fans more than requested feedback that’s ignored. 

Just ask Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, who recently came under fire on Twitter. He kicked a hornet’s nest when he asked for users’ thoughts on how Instagram should work. Instead of the constructive critiques he hoped for, he prompted a slew of responses to the general effect of ‘You never listen to what we want, so why bother asking?’ 

  1. Get creative

Far from being a hum-drum tick-box exercise, delighting customers can be one of the most creative and rewarding things your brand can do. 

Take Mastercard, whose Priceless Surprises campaign routinely pays back customers with mini and major surprises. From the simple (use your Mastercard and you could win $1,000) to the spectacular (dreaming up a day with Justin Timberlake… and then having it come true), Mastercard has created a whole Priceless Surprises sub-brand that gives users another reason to choose them over the competition. 

Then you have Ritz-Carlton, who routinely set the gold standard for surprise-and-delight service by embedding it into their entire operation. They have three steps of service that every colleague upholds:

  1. A warm and sincere greeting.
  2. Use the guest’s name. Anticipation and fulfilment of each guest’s needs.
  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm goodbye and use the guest’s name.

The running theme is one of personalising the experience by using the guest’s name — no mean feat when there are hundreds of guests a day going through the foyers and corridors. 

But the Ritz-Carlton customer delight experience goes much further. Take the example of when a young boy left behind his beloved stuffed giraffe, Joshie, after a stay.

The boy’s dad explained that Joshie was staying on holiday for a few extra days, prompting the thoughtful Ritz-Carlton team to take pictures of the giraffe enjoying the hotel’s spa treatments, meeting the staff and driving a golf buggy. Joshie was having the time of his life — and it was all captured by the Ritz-Carlton staff, who included the pictures when they returned Joshie. 

Joshie the Giraffe living his best life

Such clever — and, let’s face it, incredibly cute — behaviour is a sign that customer delight is integral to the Ritz-Carlton culture, where the company makes use of every opportunity to make their hotel more memorable than any other. 

Customer delight at every turn 

Whether it’s an anniversary card that celebrates the first time a customer shopped with you (and a juicy 25% discount to go with it) or a few staff selfies with a cherished, left-behind toy, there are a multitude of ways to delight your customers. 

But the real trick is in empowering anyone in your business to come up with the idea and see it through to fruition. That way, you don’t just delight your customers, you delight your colleagues too.


Could your brand do with a little more delight? Get in touch