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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Customer Delight Pays, but Need Not Cost Much

The tech cleaned our carpets efficiently, thoroughly, and quickly. We were delighted with the results and will engage the company again and recommend them to others.

Delighting your customers, not just satisfying them, generates more loyalty, higher margins, and more repeat business and more referrals, according to a recent study by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC) and Arizona State University’s Center for Service Leadership (CSL).* This was the first study to quantify the benefits of delighting customers.

Researchers asked 2,519 households with incomes over $100,000 "if they had experienced delight in their interactions with a company in the last six months." Satisfaction means meeting expectations, while delight means exceeding expectations. Two-thirds of the survey participants had "at least one delight experience," and the average was 3.5 such experiences. Researchers identified the following "powerful delighters":

Honesty and transparency. Knowing the limitations of products is important, especially "in industries with complex or confusing products or contracts" and also in "e-commerce, financial services, and medical care."

Applying creative, but inexpensive, "actions, behavior and words." Customers are delighted if customer service representatives give "transparent explanations," show "interest and concern" for the customer, and [connect] in a personal way." All of these are low or no cost behaviors.

Cross-selling. Two-thirds of customers delighted in being cross-sold and would even pay more for the same products if the products "accessorize" (e.g., Harley-Davidson motorcycles) or improve the "overall experience." However, the cross-selling must be "appropriate and tailored to the customer." Customer service representatives must know their customers and their needs.

Word-of-mouth. WOM has more impact coming from delighted customers than from satisfied customers. Across industries an average of 50 percent of those who heard about a delight experience acted on the recommendation. In contrast, those who heard about a good or satisfactory experience act on it about 25 percent of the time.

Digital channels. Nearly half (48 percent) of the customers had interacted through "email, chat, or social media." Live video chat calls are becoming another cause of delight. Digital channels are even effective at conveying empathy and enthusiasm.

Although this study focuses on B2C relationships, the findings are also relevant for B2C companies. Customers who are delighted with your offerings and your representatives are more likely to buy again and are more likely to recommend your business, more so than those who are just satisfied. And, a small percentage of those who hear the recommendations will purchase from your business.

However, to delight current and future customers, first provide your customers with value. Then, make sure that your sales and marketing messages are transparent and honest and that your representatives know your customers and what they need.

*Source: "Little Things Mean a Lot," Quirk Marketing Research, J. Goodman, S. Hurley, T. Hollmann, and S. Broetzmann, September/October 2021, p. 32.


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Copyright © 11/21 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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