We all yearn for the elixir of business success, but it is found in these three words: “Delight your customers.” If you do, they will come back. This article looks at what it means to delight your customers; who is doing it well in the marketplace today, and how you can apply the same principles in your business.
Delight – a sparkle word
Delight is one of my ‘sparkle’ words. It brings a glimmer to the eyes, an upward tilt to the lips, and a raising of the eyebrows. It is one of those words that elicits emotions. So what does it mean? It simply means to bring ‘great pleasure’ to someone. Pleasure is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. Delighting your customers is providing a great experience that brings immense pleasure, that influences them to take an action. It is the product as well as the process and the aftermath.
WHY do customers buy?
Freud put forward his pleasure principle, in which he said humans instinctively seek pleasure and avoid pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs. This simply means that your customers buy from you because your product saves them an aspect of pain or it increases their pleasure.
Every service or product you provide must have a value proposition. What is the value of my service to the customer? Most entrepreneurs have a good understanding of the value of their product, but not a good enough understanding of its value to the customer. For example, a tutor, who offers Maths and English classes to a young boy, understands that his services will help the boy progress and learn. But another value he provides to an indirect customer is time for the mum to go shopping, and creates space for the boy to learn with likeminded children, perhaps make new friends. These are the benefits of the service, and understanding these benefits is the first step to delighting your customers.
HOW do customers buy?
Consider the purchase process. How do they find you: is it in-store or online? Where do you advertise, how do you advertise, what is your messaging? What about the actual purchase? Is it hassle-free, void of bureaucracy, without irrelevant steps? Map the entire process out, identify the value points, and make changes to delight customers.
Caring for customers after the sales
Many entrepreneurs ignore the most important part of the purchase process: what happens after the customer has completed the purchase. The value of most products or services is fully realised as the customer enjoys the benefits. The customer delights in the purchase of makeup or makeup artist services, when she is complimented on her looks. The benefits are not necessarily enjoyed in-store or online, but perhaps days or weeks later. This is when most delighted customers talk about the brand, tweet about it, or share a post about their pleasure – a fan of your product.
Amazon – The go-to online shopping destination – A Case Study
Amazon is one of the best loved brands, and here is how it delights its customers.
With its wide range, Amazon not only stocks a wide range of products, but also a wide range of sellers. This enables customers (shoppers) to find a product within their budget, with local and fast shipping. Customers can narrow down their choices through the onsite reviews of the product, as well as reviews of the seller. Amazon offers low priced (sometimes free) shipping and, with a Prime membership, shoppers get even more. With Amazon, it was more than the product; they created a convenient and efficient shopping experience that goes beyond the shopping cart.
Delight your customers
It is safe to assume that your product or service already delights your customers to some degree. If not, you would not be in business. But there is always room to improve your customers’ experience.
Embed into company culture
During an online shopping process, I came across an unnecessary process which led to an error. I decided to contact the shop using the ‘chat’ button. The customer service representative helped to resolve my query. But when I gave feedback on the process and a suggestion on how to improve it, she drew a blank and became very defensive.
I tried to explain that it was not a complaint; it was feedback that she could report to her manager, who could then inform the relevant teams. But she felt it was a complaint and tried to explain and pacify me. I could tell she had no intention of feeding it back; she had been well trained in resolving complaints and making excuses, but not to take any feedback. I closed the chat box and downrated the chat and the company.
Most businesses pidgeonhole staff into duties and responsibilities, not utilising their staff as points of contact to delight customers and identify opportunities to redefine the value proposition. Embed a ‘customer first’ culture at every level within the company, and train staff on how to listen to customers – especially in terms of their experience with the brand.
Take advantage of technology
The technology to take your business processes to a higher level is already out there: from CRM (customer Reletionship Management) platforms, to online marketplaces, to payment platforms, project management platforms, invoicing systems, chatbots…
Technology enables you to:
• respond to customers in a timely and helpful manne
• ensure that your business can be assessed 24-7 (at the customers’ convenience)
• listen to customers
• care about what customers care about
• preempt future needs and fulfil them
• and much more
Innovate, innovate, innovate
Data is a key asset in your business. No one knows your client like you do, so make use of what you know about them, and use this strategically to innovate in your business. The type of data and how you use it is dependent on the business industry you’re in, but you need to find a way to understand and use data as an asset to your business.
Regardless of the level at which your business operates, there is always scope for improvement. For growth, that improvement needs to be customer-centered, rather than business-centered. This is a mindset shift that could lead to significant returns for you.