Are You in the Delight Business? How to Mix Pleasure into Every Customer Experience


Share on LinkedIn

I design experiences. It’s a wonderful gig – especially given the remarkable brands that entrust me to help them engage their team members and customers. It’s also an amazing time to be a designer since tools like augmented, virtual, and mixed reality enable us to provide immersive and highly interactive experiences.

I suspect you read my newsletter because you also design or deliver experiences – in one form or another. As a fellow experience designer, allow me to share a framework that has helped me increase the pleasurable nature of my client’s experiences. It comes from a conference paper titled A Study in Play, Pleasure, and Interaction Design, authored by Professors Brigid Costello and Ernest Edmonds.

In this installment, I will outline the twelve components of Costello and Edmonds’ model (which represent a compilation of work done by many other theorists and researchers). I’ll show you how to integrate these concepts into experience design for your team members and customers in my next newsletter.

Costello and Edmonds’ Twelve Sources of Pleasure

1) Creation – being able to express oneself creatively. This is the joy that comes from such things as composing, writing, building, dance, and art.

2) Exploration – derived from “seeking.” Think of this as the joy of the quest or the hunt. Sometimes this exploration leads to the next form of pleasure.

3) Discovery – Learning something new or finding something previously hidden. Think of finding something you want to share with loved ones – such as an interesting article, destination, or a previously undiscovered restaurant.

4) Difficulty Mastering a challenge. Think of this as an element of “gamification” – where a person completes a game level only to face another level with calculated and increased difficulty.

5) Competition – Prevailing over others (either individually or as a team).

6) Danger – Exhilaration that leads to relief. Think of this in the context of a roller coaster ride.

7) Captivation – Absorption in a task, event, or activity. In his book titled Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this form of pleasure as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

8) Sensation – Positive touch, sounds, smells, visual imagery, and physical activity.

9) Sympathy – Connecting with others emotionally. (I think of this more as “empathy” – since the emotional connection is ranging).

10) Fantasy – Transcending present realities and venturing into boundless possibilities.

11) Camaraderie – Being connected to others as part of a community.

12) Subversion – Breaking through norms, mores, rules, or laws. You see this pleasure principle in popular games like the “Grand Theft Auto” series, where protagonists try to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld.

What do I do with the Model?

Next week I will get into examples of how leaders infuse elements of the Edmonds/Costello model into their customer experience, but for now – here are three foundational steps you can take:

1) Discuss these forms of pleasure with colleagues and talk about examples of how these elements weave into experiences you have as consumers.

2) Look at your company’s typical customer journey and determine which forms of pleasure your customers receive at various interaction points with you.

3) Identify a form of delight you might enhance or introduce into your typical customer journey.

I hope you “discovered” something new in this post and will join me next week as we “explore” more about infusing pleasure/delight into the experiences you design and deliver.

To learn more about our team, please visit To speak to me about designing pleasure into experiences, please go to

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here