I recently attended a business conference that featured the CEO of a very fast-growing company as the keynote speaker. He discussed the importance of doing more than simply delivering on the promises we have made our customers, and he stressed the value in going the additional distance to delight them as often as possible. The audience was abuzz. Is simply delivering what the customer ordered not enough? By the end of his presentation, he had many in the audience rethinking their strategy.
What is the difference between delivering and delighting?
It’s a big one. According to dictionary.com, the word “deliver” means to carry and turn over to the intended recipient or recipients. In other words, delivering on your promise to the customer means upholding your end of the deal. The word “delight,” on the other hand, takes client gratification to another level. The strict definition of “delight” is to give great pleasure, satisfaction, or enjoyment to; please highly. Turns out “delivering” and “delighting” are apples and oranges.
With this realization, I can’t help but think about the book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard. (If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.) In this book, the author examines the development and nurturing of what he calls “raving fans,” or those customers that love working with you so much that they spread the word to others and, without being prompted by you, tout the positive aspects of doing business with you and your company. While you probably already have some raving fans, I bet you would like to convert a few more. One sure-fire way to create this kind of a loyal devotee would be to exceed their expectations and, instead of simply delivering on your service, delight them.
During a recent meeting with a few business owners, I brought up this concept of reaching beyond delivering the service that a customer expects and working to delight them instead. As you can imagine, the idea was well-received and triggered a great conversation about how beneficial it is to have raving fans out there crowing about how great it is to work with you. What I did not expect was where this conversation would go next….
It turns out that these business owners have already devoted themselves to delighting the customer and they have become quite good at it. They shared systems and tools they use to make sure they always exceed client expectations and I was increasingly impressed by their strategy. There is no doubt that this company has mastered the art of delight and could serve as a role-model to others. But, in becoming this proficient, they have encountered an unexpected obstacle, an area to improve in which they could use some help. Their system for providing the kind of service previously unexpected by customers was so good that they have actually conditioned their customers to expect to be delighted every single time. No longer is simply delivering what is expected enough. An interesting unintended consequence of always doing a little bit more… that little bit more becomes expected! How can you solve this?
Add a little SURPRISE to your delight!
The lesson learned is that it’s not enough to just deliver to your customers. And it’s not enough to even delight. You need to add a little surprise to the mix. Look for ways to bring a little extra when the client is not expecting it so they are both delighted and sincerely surprised that it happened.
Here are a few examples of how a surprise and delight might look:
- Your client plans to get an idea from you by the end of the month. Instead, you surprise them by having 3 hot ideas prepared for them to review by the end of the week.
- You learn that your client has a big presentation to his company and is going to recap all the advertising that has taken place so far this year. Without being asked, you prepare a detailed recap of everything you have delivered so far this year so he can use it in his presentation.
- You learn that your contact at one of your long-standing clients has just taken a new job so you do two things. 1. You prepare a 2-year recap of everything you have done with this client so that you can deliver the information to the new person coming in and give them a head-start. 2. You prepare as much research as you can on the new company where your contact is going to give them a head-start as well.
In order to surprise and delight, you need to know a lot about your client. You need to know what they expect and when they typically expect it. You need to know what they perceive as value versus what they simply expect from you. This is a great topic for an upcoming sales meeting. Think about a few key customers and what you can do to surprise and delight them in order to create some raving fans!