Customer satisfaction is no longer enough to ensure profitable customer relationships. Satisfied customers are not loyal or willing to tell others about your business and how great it is; they are simply satisfied. Their expectations were met. Why would they tell anyone about that?
On the other hand, a delighted customer - that is, a customer who has had an emotional experience with your firm - is likely to yell positive statements about their experiences from the proverbial rooftops. The willingness of delighted customers to act as advocates for your firm helps generate new customers, which are considered the lifeblood of the modern firm.
The influence of delight is not restricted to traditional service encounters, such as restaurants or retail firms. Indeed, hospitals now find themselves in a situation where they can lose as much as two percent of their federal funding if they do not achieve the highest experience ratings from customers (i.e., “top-box” evaluations).
Customer delight is the new standard for any business that has competition. The fact that we now know the standard is a good thing. What remains for forward-thinking firms is to figure out how to provide customer delight.
The good news is that faculty members at UNCW’s Customer Delight research group have been studying customer delight in laboratory and field settings for over a decade. They have 13 peer-reviewed articles on customer delight, have received two awards for journal articles of the year, and presented around the nation on the idea of customer delight.
Some of their key findings include:
- Delighted customers were shown to be 30 percent more loyal than satisfied customers
- Employee attitudes and behaviors can be trained to create customer delight
- Factors aside from employee variables can also create delight, such as the physical environment
- Emotions, such as surprise and joy, can be targeted by employees or with marketing campaigns to create customer delight
- In a sales encounter customer delight (not satisfaction) caused repurchase intentions
- A firm’s most frequent shoppers can experience delight continuously
- Management can tailor different customer delight strategies based on age and/or gender
This visionary team has investigated delight across settings, such as retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, professional sports franchises, adventure recreation activities and sales organizations. They have consulted with small and large firms. Learn more about custom and open enrollment workshops by visiting the Swain Center for Executive Education’s website. For more information on this research group, please contact Dr. Donald Barnes.