Pure Delight

I was thumbing through a French car magazine last week and was interested by a regular feature they do on levels of customer satisfaction for various car models. The methodology was clearly explained – a decent sample of owners were asked to evaluate their cars based on 10 questions covering most aspects of quality, reliability and economy. The results are aggregated and an overall percentage given for some 40-50 cars.

Two things struck me. Firstly, all the cars scored more than 70%. Yes, modern cars are all pretty good these days, not like the 70’s when some cars – sadly the British and Italian ones for the most part – were so poor they would have got scores similar to the approval rating for an outgoing Italian or British Prime Minister. But the second thing that stood out from the tables was that no car got more than 78%. Not much of a spread. That is largely due to the methodology – aggregating lots of views over lots of criteria will give flat results. So would you change your choice of car based on this survey because it scored 3-5% less than an alternative model but both scored between  70% and 80%? I doubt it.

But what if they had asked a different question, just one question? How many of the owners are absolutely delighted, thrilled, over-the-moon about their car after a year or more of driving it?  If you saw that an alternative car was scoring over 5% and your preferred choice 1% or less I think it would give you cause to reconsider. You’d certainly want to find out more, maybe test drive it.

Customer delight is what we should all be chasing – for anything, not just cars. Forget “Pretty good, I’m overall fairly satisfied and would consider buying again”. We want “Bloody brilliant, I had no idea it would be this good, I’m definitely sticking with this and will tell all my friends”.

Now this is not a new thought. I recall reading an article in the HBR some years ago that gave the case study of a Car Hire company that had changed the way they looked at customer satisfaction. They focused single-mindedly on customer delight. They knew the figure would always be single digit but had proved that just small movements, literally decimal points, made a significant difference to their bottom line. (I have searched for this article but could not find it otherwise you’d have the link but no matter – you’ve got the gist).

Why is delight so important? Recall and repeat purchase are obviously two key benefits. I’m not sure you remember being satisfied or will make an effort to seek out the brand that satisfied you. You do remember being delighted. But the real value of delight is word of mouth. People talk about their delight and other people listen. It goes something like this.

“How was that new restaurant? Very nice you say? I must give it a try some time”.

As opposed to:-

“I’ve got to tell you about this new restaurant, we were blown away! Yes, I’ve got the number here. I’d book fast if I were you, before everyone catches on”.

Delight gives you ambassadors and they give you momentum, and momentum gives you more momentum. I’ve used the analogy before that avalanches start with the movement of one or two snowflakes. In marketing, those first few happy consumer snowflakes who get the momentum going should be highly prized. If they are delighted snowflakes they are positively kicking the avalanche down the mountain (apologies to the skiers, perhaps I need to come up with a better analogy).

So is this anything more than a nice reminder that customer delight – not a new concept – is important? Yes it is and here’s why. Social Media. The article in the HBR was written years ago (which is why I can’t find it) at a time when word of mouth meant just that  – the influence the delighted customer would have on the relatively few number of people they might talk to. We live in an age when word of keyboard can reach thousands. Analysis has shown only a very low % of Tweets relate to brands and most of those are internet or technology brands (e.g. Apple). Only 1 or 2% relate to Coke, Dove, BMW or those kinds of brands but of course we are talking 1 or 2% of millions and millions of Tweets every hour so the absolute numbers are very high.

What is likely to get you in to that 1 or 2% or to push the percentage higher? Customer Delight – if not with the actual product (there is only so much delight I can get from a mouthful of Coke) then at least with something the brand has done.

So go on then – go delight somebody, make them ecstatic. Better still, make this your key performance measure. The results might delight you.

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