Making “delight” stick

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During a recent interview, I was asked, “How long does the effect of ‘delight’ (on a customer) last?”

The value of exploring a question like this is that it forces us to examine those variables that contribute to creating lasting positive impressions for our customers. If this knowledge can be captured and then reflected in an organization’s service models, then its employees can be intentional about providing memorable customer service consistently, over time, by design rather than inconsistently, here and there, by chance.

This was my response:

The effect of “delight” varies depending on the person (expectancy), the degree of delight (intensity), and the situation (urgency). For instance, I was delighted when a barista served my double espresso with a 4-oz. glass of chilled sparkling water as a palate cleanser. I later learned that, for some espresso aficionados, this “delighter” would have been an expectation. And there are many different ways to delight – from offering a sincere and specific compliment to delivering service heroics. Both acts will leave a lasting positive impression, but they differ in intensity. The situation matters too. If my chiropractor can see me right away (without an appointment) for a routine adjustment, that’s fine. But if I’m experiencing acute pain in my lower back and my chiropractor can see me right away, then I’m delighted!

At the time, I was quite pleased by the assonance of the three categories that emerged: expectancy, intensity, and urgency, but recognize that consumer behavior is far too complex to fit neatly into three categories – even if they do sound alike.

How would you respond to this question?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.

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