How to delight customers: 15 strategies

Customer Experience

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Customers don’t usually leave 3-star reviews. People tend to speak up when their experience with a company was either extremely positive or extremely negative. Investing in those extremely positive experiences is an investment in delighting customers—and this is what results in loyal, repeat customers who are ambassadors of your brand.

But how exactly do you delight customers and how can you measure it? We’re covering everything you need to know about customer delight below.

What is customer delight?

Customer delight is when a company goes above and beyond customer expectations and surprises them with an outstanding positive experience. Customer delight involves your customers’ emotions, making sure they feel heard, seen, considered, and valued in their interactions with your brand. Delighted customers are loyal promoters of your brand and will keep coming back to you for their needs and recommend your company to their network.

How to delight customers

Here are the best ways to delight customers, both online and offline.

  1. Really listen and take action, quickly
  2. Let them try before they buy
  3. Be enthusiastic
  4. Offer alternatives and notifications
  5. Let customers “think about it”
  6. Help them find what they’re looking for
  7. Customize errors
  8. Go digital
  9. Respond to feedback
  10. Send sensitive newsletter opt-outs
  11. Offer a free gift, sample, or future discount with purchase
  12. Add personal touches
  13. Make them feel special
  14. Offer discounts, free shipping, and free returns
  15. Reward repeat customers

1. Really listen and take action, quickly

What customers expect is that your contact information is easy to find, that it’s easy to get ahold of someone at your organization, and that they’ll address their concerns. What delights is when they feel truly heard, understood, and empathized with, and that their concerns are addressed promptly.

Offering an instant response is best (e.g. connecting them to a live chat agent right away or answering the phone), but when this isn’t possible, it’s important to delight customers by including an estimated wait or response time.

For example, if someone is trying to reach your customer support team via live chat, email, or social media and no one is available on the other end to get to them immediately, let them know how long they can expect to wait, what number they are in the queue, or how long it will take to get a response. If they’re waiting on the phone, give them a callback option so they don’t have to wait on hold all day. These small details show that you care about the customer’s time and concerns and it will win you big points with the customer.

We’re passionate about making your customers feel supported. Learn how Idiomatic helped Instacart’s Customer Support team strategically scale and improve support operations using advanced, real-time ticket categorization. Read Instacart’s customer support success story >>

2. Let them try before they buy

What’s expected when a customer buys a product is for it to work (a.k.a. solve their problem) and if it doesn’t, they expect for it to be exchanged or returned without hassle. What delights in this situation is when a company offers a “try before you buy” option.

Obviously, this is a given in brick and mortar clothing stores, but in areas such as tech, furniture, fitness equipment, and more, the try before you buy option can make customers feel at ease with their buying decision and valued as a customer (even if they decide against their purchase). This type of no-pressure, ‘satisfaction or your money back guaranteed’ program is delightful to customers and makes them feel comfortable enough to return to your brand for future purchases and recommend your company to their network.

3. Be enthusiastic

What’s expected during a customer’s experience with your brand is polite customer service that gets the job done and satisfies basic needs. What delights is service that is contagiously enthusiastic, friendly, warm, and over-the-top. Unenthusiastic staff breeds unenthusiastic customers and your brand will feel dull, dry, and maybe even a little miserable, leaving a less-than-pleasant impression on your customers.

One of the most memorable examples of staff enthusiasm we’ve heard was from an artisanal burger company that answered the phone and engaged in a fun exchange with the customer before taking their pick-up order.

It went something like this:

Burger company: “Hello, this is Flipside Burgers. Do you want to hear today’s special?”

Customer: “Hello! Sure.”

Burger company: “Today is special! Now, what can we get for you?”

*Laughter ensues*

This simple and enthusiastic exchange is almost always guaranteed to put a smile on the customer’s face or offer them a laugh and leave a pleasant impression of this company in their memory.

4. Offer alternatives and notifications

If the product or service a customer is looking for is out of stock or unavailable at the moment, what’s expected is that you would have some sort of signage or notice that informs the customer that it’s sold out or out of stock.

What delights in this situation is:

  1. Suggesting alternatives or similar products or services.
  2. Offering to notify them when the product or service is available again.

5. Let customers “think about it”

If a customer isn’t ready to commit to a purchase, what’s expected is that they can leave your storefront or abandon their cart without hassle. What delights in this situation is giving them the option to place items on hold or add them to a wishlist for easy access later on.

Taking the pressure off customers makes their shopping experience more comfortable and creates a safe space for them to browse and purchase at their own pace which nurtures a positive experience with your brand.

6. Help them find what they’re looking for

Customers expect websites and storefronts to be well-organized with clearly labeled signs and maybe even a staff member to help them find what they’re looking for. What delights customers during navigation is:

  • A search bar function on your website that makes it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.
  • Helpful and knowledgeable staff in-store that will walk them to the exact location of the item or items the customer is looking for.

Bonus delight: If a business has an online store and a storefront, including the aisle number of the item helps customers locate it in-store if they choose not to buy online.

7. Customize errors

When we say error, we mean something like a 404 page. What’s expected from a 404 page is a simple error message with a 404 code, telling the users that what they’re looking for doesn’t exist.

What delights is the following:

  1. A custom and memorable 404 page that maybe even offers some humor or lightheartedness to the situation.
  2. Quick links back to the home page, product or service pages, etc.
  3. A search bar so they can plug in what they’re looking for directly from the 404 page.

8. Go digital

When shopping at a brick-and-mortar establishment, what’s expected is printed receipts. What delights is the option to have the receipt emailed to the customer.

This is a delight for several reasons:

  1. It allows customers to easily access the receipt should they need to exchange or return an item (instead of having to store the receipt somewhere or digging through the trash to find it).
  2. It’s more environmentally friendly.

9. Respond to feedback

When customers leave feedback they expect their reviews or concerns to be read by someone relevant within the company.  What delights is when those reviews or concerns are replied to and addressed—publicly, privately, or both.

For example, if a customer had a bad experience with your company and leaves a negative review on Google, the best way to approach this is to publicly respond to their review on the review platform, sincerely apologize if you were in the wrong, and offer to amend the situation by providing them with an email or phone number they can contact to further address the issue and rectify the problem. This simple act can turn disgruntled customers into satisfied customers and minimize customer churn.

It should be noted that delighting customers doesn’t end at responding to feedback and fixing their problems. You need to take it one step further and make fundamental changes to the customer experience based on said feedback. If you don’t, your customers will continue to have the same negative experiences and you will continue putting out the same fires and never growing as a company.

Learn how Idiomatic helped Upwork turn customer feedback into automated, real-time insights to make beneficial changes to their organization and improve the customer experience. Read Upwork’s success story >>

10. Send sensitive newsletter opt-outs

Certain calendar dates can be more difficult for some than others. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. There are often promotional emails sent out on these dates to “Buy Mom XYZ Product This Mother’s Day” or “Give Dad a Gift He’ll Love This Father’s Day”. These types of messages can be quite triggering for those who have lost a parent.

What’s expected on these days is for the customer to have a difficult time with all the messaging they will undoubtedly be bombarded with. What delights is sending an email ahead of time giving them the option to opt-out of that specific newsletter. This shows the customer that their feelings are important to your company and that they’re being considered in your actions.

11. Offer a free gift, sample, or future discount with purchase

During checkout, customers expect to have a seamless transaction: they pay you money for a product or service you provide. What isn’t expected and can aid in delighting customers is offering a free gift, sample, or discount for a future purchase. This is another way to thank them for their purchase and for supporting your business.

12. Add personal touches

What’s expected when customers receive their delivery is an invoice with their order details. What delights is a handwritten note to say thank you for the customer’s purchase and support of your business. Handwritten notes don’t have to be long or overly personalized. The gesture is often what’s large enough to leave a long-lasting, positive impression.

13. Make them feel special

Most companies will send a holiday newsletter wishing their customers happy holidays or happy new year. Customers don’t usually expect the brands they do business with to go out of their way to make them special. As the saying goes, customers are only a number to businesses. But a way to break this stereotype and delight customers is by sending them a birthday wish.

This can be done on their actual birthdate or during their birth month. Something as simple as a happy birthday greeting to acknowledge their special day or something as generous as offering a discount or free item. The size of the gesture is not important but it will go a long way in creating a loyal and happy customer.

Note: This requires you to collect their birthday information during the newsletter or account sign-up stage.

14. Offer discounts, free shipping, and free returns

Many companies don’t offer discounts on their products or services. Others ask their customers to pay the shipping fees for online returns. These are common practices but at the very least, customers expect to pay a fair price for the goods and services they purchase.

What delights customers is when they see discounted or sale prices, free shipping, and free returns. When customers feel like their hard-earned dollars are being valued and not being taken advantage of by your brand, they’ll be grateful and more likely to turn into loyal customers.

15. Reward repeat customers

Repeat customers expect the same great experience each time they engage with your company. You can delight repeat customers by introducing a points or rewards system where they get money or credit back with future purchases. You can also delight them by giving them early access to new products or services before others. Creating a community or membership program where repeat customers feel valued will solidify them as loyal customers and promoters.

How to measure customer delight

Customer delight can be measured in several ways, including:

  1. Customer Delight Index (CDI): The Customer Delight Index measures the level of delight your customers feel about your brand. The index is calculated from different feedback surveys that are customized to suit your organization and scores it with a numerical value or rates it on a scale. Parameters such as delivery timeliness, product quality, communication, friendliness, etc. may be considered in your Customer Delight Index feedback survey.
  2. Customer Effort Score (CES): The Customer Effort Score is a single-item metric that measures the amount of effort a customer has to exert to fulfill a need (e.g. to get a question answered, a request fulfilled, a product purchased or returned, a technical issue resolved, etc.) Understanding your CES can help you better understand customer experience and customer loyalty.
  3. Net Promoter Score (NPS): You may also want to consider your Net Promoter Score to help determine customer delights as this will give you insights into customer loyalty.
  4. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Customer Satisfaction can give you insights into customer delight as there is some crossover. You can determine customer satisfaction by surveying customers and asking questions such as: “Are you happy with the product?” or “Was your support request resolved quickly?”. These questions are usually closed-ended and asked as yes or no questions or rated on a five-point scale. The average of all answers is your CSAT score.

What can be measured can be improved. Learn how Idiomatic helped FabFitFun gather real-time insights into the “why” behind their customer satisfaction scores and achieved a 49% decrease in customer complaints. Read the FabFitFun success story >>

Customer delight FAQs

What is a customer delight example?

Examples of customer delight include a surprise gift or sample with purchase, offering a discount or special promotion during the customer’s birth month, and including a handwritten thank you letter in a package. These are just a few examples of how a business can go above and beyond to truly delight its customers.

How do you delight customers in retail?

You can delight customers in retail by doing the following:

  • Greeting them warmly when they enter the store
  • Introducing yourself and letting them know you are available to help them
  • Notifying them of any sales or promotions
  • Offering to hold their bags or big coats behind the till while they shop for a more comfortable experience
  • Informing them of the return and exchange policies during purchase
  • Being attentive to helpful throughout their entire time at the store

What are the needs of every customer?

Every customer needs to feel valued, heard, comfortable, safe, and in control. They also need to be fully informed and have options, treated fairly, friendly, and with empathy. When these needs are met, customer delight and satisfaction increase.

How do you prioritize customers?

Businesses can prioritize the customer experience by taking the time to understand their customers (e.g. their pain points, their concerns, their values, etc.), creating a genuine connection, providing timely and helpful support, collecting feedback, and using that feedback to improve customer satisfaction. Having this customer-focused approach puts your customer’s needs first and will inherently lead to a better customer experience and more loyal customers.

Delight customers to your fullest potential

Companies should always be striving to do better and outperform themselves year over year. Read customer reviews, send out surveys, and talk with your customers; really dig into their feedback and identify opportunities to improve your business and fix bad customer service.

Using AI-powered software like Idiomatic helps you sift through all the customer feedback and make sense of it all so you can create data-driven decisions for your business.  Idiomatic works by:

  1. Collecting all your voice of customer data in one place (through integrations). 
  2. Using sophisticated algorithms and machine learning, it categorizes your mountains of data (it can even pre-tag tickets for your agents).
  3. Analyzing the data to identify customer pain points, drivers, and sentiments.
  4. Giving you actionable takeaways and insights to make improvements, fast. 

Here’s a video that shows how Idiomatic does this:

Request a demo today with Idiomatic to create a more delightful experience for your customers.

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