The word "delight" is not a fluffy marketing concept that you can ignore. Delight is a competitive advantage for many businesses, and it can be for yours as well. Delight simply means to please someone. So in the context of business, how do you please someone?

I believe pleasing someone boils down to doing three things consistently well during the customer’s experience:

  • Answering their questions
  • Solving their problems
  • Helping them reach their goals

You might be saying "Mark, that doesn’t seem very hard. In fact, we do all three of those things today!"

I bet you do do all three things today, but do you do them well across every single interaction a person has with your business? This means interactions ranging from someone visiting your blog, to reading your pricing page, to talking to a salesperson, to using your product for the first time, to getting help using your product, and everything in-between.

If you’re able to do those three things well across all interactions, then you’re definitely pleasing people and even more importantly, you’re building trust with people.

Here’s another question: why do you buy something? Most of the time, it’s probably because you have a need or a desire. In other words, you have a problem to solve or you have a goal that you want to attain.

It’s the responsibility of the people working at any business to help people solve problems and reach their goals. Take a moment to think about your products or services and what problems or goals they help people solve or reach. (In fact, write them down. It might make for some good blog content down the road.)

Now, really think through this question: when you’re purchasing something or after you purchase something, how often do your expectations typically get met, or better yet, exceeded?

I bet that answer didn’t come easy. It’s really hard to exceed someone’s expectations, and it’s especially hard to exceed people's expectations over the course of many interactions.

At the end of the day, it’s about serving people with what they need in order to see and feel success.

Success doesn’t lie in your eyes, success lies in the person who needs your help. Think of it like this: how can you provide value to someone so that they can extract value?

Nailing the customer experience means that you're building trust with people so that they stick around for a long time. You build trust with people by making the people you’re here to serve successful. Let’s discuss the three must-haves to delighting and building trust with your customers.

Answer Their Questions

You’re looking to purchase something and you have a few questions. I bet you either go online to get most of your answers or you ask your friends.

At the same time, you probably start to find a few businesses as you search for answers online. Those businesses are trying to build trust with you and are hoping to form a long-term relationship with you. How are they doing this? Because they’re creating content that you’re getting value from; value, in this scenario, is in the form of the answer to one of your questions.

It could be blog content, an email they recieved, content that’s on your primary website, or content you publish to one of your social media channels. 

Creating the right types of content in the right formats is a key piece to helping people answer their questions. Businesses should be researching who they’re trying to serve by doing buyer persona research. Personas will help a business know what types of questions to answer and what format to use to best answer the questions (e.g. video, text, imagery).

You’re learning new things and, at the same time, you’re starting to establish some trust with that business. You decide that you want to now start a real dialogue with the business to see if they can help you. You talk to a salesperson, and they’re trained to help you find the right solution for either the problem you’re experiencing or the goal you’re trying to reach.

Solve Their Problems

A business should use the persona research they did to understand the problems people are experiencing. Take a look to see how well your product or service aligns to the problems people are facing. You might realize they need you to make some product improvements, or you might realize that your product is working as designed, but the process to get your product functioning properly is a mess.

If that’s the case, then you’ve introduced a new problem to your customers. And as you might guess, problems don't delight.  It's not pleasing to experience a problem, and a problem will not help you build trust with your customers.

To start, you should be creating the right content to help people understand how to best see success with your product so that they can solve their problem. Maybe it’s a simple email after purchase so they know how to set up the product. Beyond that, it could be a series of emails, or a dedicated user guide to help them get set up, a quick-to-consume set of videos, or a combination of those things. 

Are you set up to best help people solve problems that come up because of your product or something you did at your business? I’d recommend providing your support or services team with ongoing training so they know how to help people resolve their problems and help people understand how to hopefully prevent that problem from occurring again.

It doesn't hurt to ask yourself: how can your business use a problem and turn it into a pleasing situation?

Achieve Their Goals

From your persona research, you will be able to determine what goals people want to achieve with your product. I like to think of it like this: a business exists to remove the obstacles or the problems that are standing in the way of someone reaching their goals.

Make sure you understand why people are buying your product or service so you can figure out how to help them see success and feel value from your product or service. Understanding what they need from you when things don’t go quite right, or when things are going right, can help you exceed their expectations.

I recommend that as many employees as possible actually use the product you’re selling in some way. Why? Because you’ll feel first-hand what it’s like to be a customer and how to improve all of the interactions that customers have with your business. Not to mention the product itself!

If you or others can’t use the product, then I would watch your customers use the product. Go on location, do it via video, or interview your customers about their pre- and post-sale experiences with your business and product. All of the information you discover can be used to help you strengthen your buyer persona descriptions, improve your content creation, and improve the interactions between employees and the people you’re serving.

You should have a mindset of always be learning to improve the customer’s experience. One easy way to have this mindset is to constantly ask yourself how can we meet, if not exceed, the expectations people have in their mind.

It's important to not dismiss how crucial personal communication is when helping people reach their goals or solve their problems. Here’s one example of how a coffee company, MistoBox, follow-ups with people who aren’t happy. What’s the customer’s goal? To enjoy a delicious cup of coffee that’s aligned with their taste and brewing preferences.

Connor, the co-founder, can see every review that rolls in. If it's positive, he knows they're on the right track. If it's negative — i.e. the customer rated the coffee two stars or less — he reaches out directly.

"If somebody says they don't like a coffee, we can go in, make some tweaks to their preferences, and let them know we made changes," Connor says. "But if somebody give us a bad review, and doesn't tell us why, then we can reach out and say 'Hey, you didn't really like this coffee. Can you explain a little bit more so we can avoid sending you coffees like this in the future?'"

The bottom line here is that you need to be innovating your products, your processes and the overall customer experience to truly delight people. Innovation can be large-scale, like a new product or a whole new way to get help with your product. It can also be on a smaller scale, like how you train new employees to handle customer questions or the content formats you’re using to help people see value with your product.

The other thing you need to be focused on doing well is providing education to people and communicating with people in a way that gets them answers to questions and solutions to problems. This gives them that feeling of euphoria when they reach their goal, and that's something they'll remember.

Each business is unique and quirky in one way or another. My recommendation is to lean into what makes you unique and different. It’s just as much of a competitive advantage as delight is. Remember to have fun, stay weird and solve for your customers success.

I’ll leave you with this quote: “Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.” - Danny Meyer, Setting the Table

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Originally published Dec 31, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017