When a brand meets customer expectations, it is ensuring customer satisfaction. However, when customers get value or benefits beyond what they had expected, the brand has ensured customer ‘delight’. Common sense suggests that a delighted customer would be more loyal to your brand than a satisfied customer.
Customer delight, in most cases, is not about better product performance. Consumers have a certain degree of functional expectation from a brand and, in most cases, the brand is likely to deliver a level of performance pretty close to that expected by the customer. This is precisely the reason why functional parameters have ceased to be meaningful differentiators for customers to choose one brand over the other.
So what is customer delight all about? How does a brand ensure customer delight?
Customer Delight is about demonstrating and providing a set of tangible and intangible benefits beyond the functional features, a combination of which provides value beyond what the customer had expected to receive from the brand. E.g. quality of customer service, quality of customer support staff, design differentiators of the brand [e.g. Apple], etc.
It is important to recognize that customer delight is a moving target. It is not a fixed benchmark to be achieved. As competition intensifies and responds, the power of some benefits to act as differentiators gets diluted or erased. Brands therefore have to constantly monitor customer satisfaction and delight levels in relation to competitive offerings and then create more and innovative value propositions for customers to continue to feel delighted.
Often entrepreneurs take the easy route of providing higher value through lower price. However, not only is there no guarantee of it being a sustainable advantage (because it is replicable by other players too) but it also strips the brand of much needed profitability to create and sustain alternate benefits.
Consumers don’t necessarily look for ‘low price’. They look for ‘high value’. Apart from a sensible price point, customers look at brand imagery, service and other intangible parameters for selecting amongst brands. For a brand that seeks to provide ever increasing service levels and standards, competing on price will seriously limit its ability to invest in technology and resources to provide the desired service levels.