The Biggest Problem with Customer Delight Expectations

Kirsten Schierholt

Kirsten Schierholt
Marketing Operations Analyst at ProductPlan

Making a sale deserves celebration, but ringing that bell is only the start of the customer journey. Now it’s time for onboarding, collecting feedback, increasing usage, and eventually winning the renewal. These other crucial components often don’t get as much attention as the initial deal closing. But without meeting these customer expectations, you can’t grow these accounts. They’re equally as important and worthy of recognition.

Converting a prospect to a customer requires delivering delightful experiences along the way. The delightful experiences create demand and enthusiasm for the product. However, these magical moments shouldn’t stop when the first check clears. That initial spark of joy isn’t enough to sustain the fires of customer loyalty and happiness.

Why is meeting customer delight expectations so important? Let’s find out.

Customers May be Replaceable, but Replacing Them Isn’t Free

It’s true that there’s always another customer. However, think about how much time, energy, and money went into winning the customers you have. Regardless of your sales model, they likely weren’t free.

Churn isn’t cheap

There’s a reason companies are so concerned with churn. If a customer calls it quits, the investment in winning that sale is thrown out the window. The risk of churn puts even more pressure and emphasis on bringing in new customers.

After the initial rush of easy wins, the customer acquisition costs for new customers are usually more expensive than the older ones. Typically the new customers need even more convincing than the first set of customers. No one’s total addressable market is infinite.

To pile on, if customers are quitting quickly, then their lifetime value is also dwindling. Whether or not this is a KPI your company is actively measuring, it’s still essential to the long-term viability of your product and business model. Moreover, if your user base is a continual turnstile of once-delighted-now-underwhelmed customers, then your net promoter score is headed in the wrong direction.

The biggest challenge of customer delight expectations

Every company wants to grow. Growth typically comes by increasing the number of customers you have and increasing your average revenue per customer. If you’re hemorrhaging customers because you’re failing to keep them engaged and satisfied, you’ve significantly increased the level of difficulty to have any growth.

You can trace growth directly back to how happy your customers are. Satisfied customers stay loyal and stick around longer. They make excellent references and spread the word about how awesome your product is. If their customer delight expectations are being met, they’re usually game to spend more going forward if they liked their original purchase.

However, if they’re not thrilled with their product experience, they’re far less likely to increase engagement. Your customer base will be reluctant to spend more on add-ons and extensions and hesitant to renew when their subscription is up.

Creating a Perpetually Positive Product Experience

You can’t take your foot off the gas after the initial sale. So it’s time to figure out how to keep customers delighted long after the initial thrills have faded. Properly nurturing customers throughout their product experience requires both a philosophical shift and a flawless execution.

1. Attitude adjustment

Product-centric organizations adapting to this mindset must overcome the instinct to prioritize new features and functionality over everything else. This can be tough, as so many parts of the organization only exist to deliver new “stuff.”

While there’s no denying that new widgets are one way to delight existing customers, it’s not a sustainable method of endless delight. You can’t roll out new features week after week that give users a consistent dose of warm and fuzzies without creating a bloated and unwieldy monster.

This requires a shift to considering the entire experience. It’s like instead of just making a car; you’re creating a “driving experience.” Or rather than building an oven, you’re delivering a “cooking experience.” The car and the oven are integral parts of those experiences, but it also requires other elements. The memory/feeling created by the actual product coupled with the experience is far more powerful in delight factor than a product alone.

By creating a journey map, you can frame the product within this more substantial experience. You’ll identify gaps, spot opportunities, and have a point of reference to get the whole organization on board.

Read the Essential Feature Kickoff Checklist ➜

2. Anticipate customer behaviors

Some customer experiences you will be able to anticipate using common sense. Others you’ll discover through customer interviews and usability testing. Some you’ll find from your data and analytics.

Regardless of how you find out about it, you know your users are likely to do certain things. Make sure it’s as pleasant an experience as possible, even if they’re “not supposed to do that.” This can be as simple as creating an exhaustive FAQ or popping up helpful hints in the UI at common friction points.

Even better, you can do things for users before they need to do it themselves. Every proactive step your product experience takes shows customers you “get” them and care about them.

3. Exceed customer delight expectations

Customers with certain expectations will be frustrated if they can’t contact customer support, for example.

The best product experiences go beyond delivering the basics; they go the extra mile. After that customer support call are you following up with helpful resources or checking in a week later? Are you throwing in some extra currency for frequent players?

These little things can go a long way to show customers their personal experience is important to the company, and you invest in their continued satisfaction and delight.

4. Deliver consistent excellence

Your product might be gorgeous, flawless, and stunning. Still, if customer service is operated by cranky, uneducated people or the billing process is painful, the overall product experience takes a serious hit.

Review every touchpoint a customer may have with your organization. Make sure they all measure up against the same high standards that you hold the product. Whether it’s shoddy support documentation or lackluster training, these all make an impression and can diminish the experience.

The internal systems, education, and communication must embrace this approach too. Everyone should have access to enough data to provide superior experiences. They should use the same language and terminology; whether it’s Jane in accounts receivables, Jessica in support or Jerry in professional services.

5. Quickly quash problem areas

Nothing turns a customer off more than reporting an issue and not receiving a response. They want to know that you hear them and that you care about their experience. At a minimum, they deserve a reply.

However, the faster you address their complaints with an actual change, the more customer-centric your organization will appear. When you report a pothole to the city, and you see it on a list of unscheduled improvements that’s one thing; and not a very delightful one. When the city shows up that afternoon to fill it, you’ve got a whole different set of appreciation.

6. Make customer delight personal

Generic interactions might get the job done, but they rarely inspire lasting, positive emotions. With so much data on customers and how they’re using the product, there’s no excuse not to leverage that information throughout the product experience.

From support interactions to onboarding to in-app messaging, you already know a ton about the customer. You know how customers use the product and where they are at this moment in time. Meet them where they are and get them to their destination faster by providing a personalized experience whenever possible.

Big Picture Thinking for the Win

The product experience is a holistic journey. When you acknowledge that the product is only one ingredient it exhibits customer empathy. Don’t let a myopic obsession with the product shortchange the rest of the journey.

Find out how to prioritize customer delight on your roadmap.