How Marketers Can Add Delight to the Customer Experience
When we talk about the customer experience, there are some CX essentials that are proven to consistently increase conversion, like reducing friction.
However, do you stop at reducing the negative? Or do you actively work to delight customers? Here’s a simple example.
I was dining at a fancy restaurant on vacation recently. You know the type: dark mahogany woods, dim lighting to set the mood, candle flickering on the table. When I opened the menu — cue angelic chorus — I saw the light. Literally. The menu lit up. It was backlit with LEDs that automatically turned on when the menu was opened and turned off when the menu was closed.
Delight Is a Differentiator
An easy purchase experience is table stakes. That is what customers expect.
But an enjoyable purchase experience can be a real differentiator and have an outsize impact on customer satisfaction.
In fact, we surveyed 2,400 consumers sampled to reflect a close match to the U.S. population’s demographics, and split them in half — asking one group to think of a company they were satisfied with, and the other group to think of a company they were unsatisfied with.
When we asked them about that company’s marketing, the most frequent response from both satisfied and unsatisfied customers was that “the purchasing [experience] (whether online or in person) is easy.”
But the biggest differentiator was the enjoyability of the purchase experience. The second-most frequent response from unsatisfied customers was that “the purchasing experience (whether online or in person) is enjoyable (46%). For unsatisfied customers, purchase experience enjoyability dropped all the way down to the eighth-most-frequent response (10%).
How to Spark Joy With Your Customer Experience
Hopefully, you’ve already mapped out the prospect conclusion funnel. The goal is to get an understanding of what conclusions customers need to make at each point in their customer journey. When you do this well, you lead the right customers to the ultimate conclusion — they should purchase your product.
Can you find ways to add delight to that journey, as well? Try this. On a Friday afternoon, or even a Wednesday hump day lunch, pull up that mapped-out prospect conclusion funnel with your marketing team. Pass around some beer, ice cream, or whatever your brainstorming lubricant of choice is. Step into the customer’s shoes and think about some ways you can add delight in the customer experience.
Or to borrow from Marie Kondo — take each step of that customer journey and ask yourself if is sparks joy.
Not every step will, of course. But if there is no delight in the process, can you add (or perhaps take away) something from that experience to make it more enjoyable for the customer? Are there little lifts you can add here and there?
To go back to the light-up menu example I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the restaurant tapped into a real point of friction. Fortunately, I’m young enough that I don’t have this challenge yet, but for many older patrons it can be extremely difficult to read a restaurant menu in a low-light setting. So if you are a customer expecting to have that challenge, and then you open the menu and it lights up — that is truly delightful.
Here are some other ideas to catalyze your thinking:
- Listen to Your Customers — Monitor current customer behavior to understand what gets them excited, especially what gets them excited enough to share on social media. After discovering customers were pairing wine with Cheez-It snacks, Kellogg’s delighted customers by packaging Cheez-It and House Wine together in one box.
- Beyond Social Media Listening, Actually Go and Meet With Your Customers — When User Experience Designer and Architect Gregory Casey was designing a mobile experience for eBags, he actually asked customers to visit their homes and watch them interact with the mobile and tablet experience. He discovered they didn’t just want to instantly find a product, but rather delighted in the experience. For example, after she put the kids to bed, one customer would pour a glass of red wine, grab her mobile device, and browse through the latest purses. So he designed an experience to help make it enjoyable for the customer to browse as well, not just instantly find and buy.
- Think Outside the Box With Your Product — This is a trite phrase, I know. But it is used so often because the technique is so valuable. What presumptions are you making about your purchase experience and products? Could you challenge the model and do something different? When Flint McGlaughlin (CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS Institute, where I work) wrote his book “The Marketer as Philosopher: 40 Brief Reflections on the Power of Your Value Proposition,” he didn’t release it as an ebook. And he didn’t print it like the traditional business book, with a glossy dust jacket. The book is handmade, with a full-grain leather cover. Because the book isn’t meant to just inform or be consumed, it’s designed to delight and foster reflection.
- Leverage the Physical World — E-commerce is a brutally efficient product search, sale, and delivery engine. And if you buy into the hype, e-commerce is the only thing that matters anymore. But if your brand has a physical presence, are you taking advantage of it to delight customers? If your brand doesn’t have a physical presence, can you create one (even temporarily) to delight customers? From the Barbican Center’s “Rain Room” that has more than 30,000 images on Instagram to illy surprising weary travelers at Newark Airport with free coffee, physical interactions are how we’ve delighted each other for millennia. Don’t let the explosive growth of the Internet blind you to that.
- Replicate the Physical Experience’s Delight in E-commerce — Many companies have an e-commerce-only presence. They simply have no place to create a “Rain Room.” In that case, sometimes it is helpful to consider the physical shopping experience when mapping out ways to delight customers with the digital experience. I think we were all better at doing that in the early days of the Internet, before we became so accustomed to e-commerce as a natural part of life. So for my next example, I reached way back in the MarketingSherpa archives to the year 2000. Online beauty service com attempted to replicate the department store cosmetic counter gift bag by including a delightful extra with each purchase – two stems of orchids, a pretty silver compact mirror, a T-shirt, or a travel bag.
- When Something Goes Wrong, Make It Delightfully Right — Don’t stop mapping the customer experience at the product purchase. To maximize customer-lifetime value and word-of-mouth marketing, consider customer service, as well. For example, when a product stained a customer’s carpet, Man Crates sent a carpet cleaner to the customer’s home. It didn’t shirk blame. It didn’t put the work on the customer to return a product or file a claim. It just fixed the problem. How delightful.