Customer Delight is Free!

May 5, 2020

Companies spend billions on R&D, yet making quality products is no longer enough; it’s the absolute minimum. To survive, they need to dive into the baffling area of customer delight.

There was a time when for a business to be successful, all they had to do was make a better product and customers would swarm in. And, as long as you kept it this way, you were pretty much sorted. Fast forward to today, and it’s hard to find products that don’t perform.

As much as we like to complain, we live in an era of quality. Basic products have become almost identical in terms of specifications, performance and features. Can we objectively say that OnePlus phones are inferior compared to Apple or Samsung? Is American Express or Citibank far ahead of other banks in terms of the core banking services they offer? You may think about any industry and the story is pretty much the same.

Companies spend billions on research and development, yet making quality products is no longer enough; it’s the absolute minimum. All this money is spent to keep customers barely satisfied.

To survive, companies must move beyond satisfaction to the grey area of customer delight which, paradoxically, is very simple to explain yet very difficult to implement. What is the secret of customer delight and how can you create it?

Path to Customer Delight

Empathy —

Delight involves doing what you would expect if you were the customer. You need to be genuinely concerned about your customer’s discomfort. Delight has to be instantaneous, it can’t follow a routine or be mired in bureaucracy. Delight can’t wait for approval from the HQ. It lives in the moment and demands a response — straight from the heart. Zappos has mastered the art of delivering wow. I highly recommend reading — Delivering Happiness by its founder to better understand their philosophy.

“I define wow customer service as a service that goes beyond fulfilling basic customer expectations and does so in a creative, unexpected way.” — Tony Hsieh

People —

You have to hire people who rejoice in dealing with other people. Screening for cultural and values alignment is as important as screening for technical skills. Zappos uses a very sneaky strategy to hire people. If an applicant gets an interview and is not local, they get a free ride from the airport to HQ. During this ride, the driver is making a mental note of how the applicant treats him.

“It doesn’t matter how well the day of interviews went, if our shuttle driver wasn’t treated well, then we won’t hire that person” — Tony Hsieh, told the Wall Street Journal in 2013.

Environment —

Delight requires spontaneity and making the customer happy by going the extra mile. The management should create the right environment to allow people to create delightful moments. The motto of customer delight should percolate down from internal memos and corporate brochures to customer touch points.

Good is not Good Enough

Companies need to make huge investments to hang on to their “satisfied” customers. Satisfaction involves making policies, setting up a network of dealers and partners across the country, creating complex legal documents to set the terms of service and so on. The delight, on the other hand, is free. It’s the empathy towards the customer, the trust, the respect, the way your rep talks to them on the phone. Little things like this add up.

Studies show that repeat purchase goes up from 40% to 80% when the rating goes up from Good to Great. Therefore, it is important to know that being good is not good enough.


I aspire to become a problem solver by combining and recombining existing knowledge in new ways.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.