What Happened to Surprise and Delight?

Several years ago, one of the most overused phrases in marketing was “surprise and delight.” The idea of delivering above expectations by including unexpected benefits whether it was an extra discount, a free sample, or an improved experience was one of the hottest marketing themes. However, as marketing tactics have evolved, many companies have moved away from focusing on this strategy. Is this a good thing?

Yes. Your offer should standalone without needing extra bonuses and discounts or diluting your brand.

In an ideal world, the need or want your product or service fulfills matches customers willingness to pay. Then you won’t need to offer an additional incentive to close a sale. Or you’ve priced your product correctly, so any discounts or promotions are a delight on their own.

Maybe. You’ve created effective cart abandon and retention programs without new offers.

Oftentimes the delight is to convert those who started down the purchase journey and then stopped. However, if you’ve created the right cart abandon journey, you may not need a new offer to get them to complete the purchase. Some simple tactics include using scarcity (i.e., hurry up and buy as there are only a few left), retargeting with emails or social, or even showing similar or ancillary products can work. However, a surprise discount or offer can also be an effective conversion tool – perhaps the last touchpoint of the cart abandon journey.

No. You should always reward your loyal customers.

There is value in creating a brand reputation for rewarding loyal customers. While your loyal customers may know they’ll get a delight during the process, they may not even price compare because trust they will always get the best deal – a combo of product / price / service. However, surprising loyal customer beyond their expectations is what may take them over a price hurdle, upsell them, or turn them into brand ambassadors. And yes, essentially make them stickier.

Customer service should be given surprise and delight tools

If there is one team that should always have surprise and delight tools, it is customer service. The phrase “make it right” can be the difference between earning / losing a sale, retaining / losing a customer, or getting a good / bad review. A customer can have a terrible experience but have it turned around or ‘forgiven’ based on their interaction with customer service. For instance, last year some businesses that offered loyalty programs suspended expirations of points since, well, it was an unprecedented time. Others did the reverse; customers who noticed may have become frustrated for losing all the loyalty points they accumulated. The simplest way to surprise and delight those customers would’ve been reinstating the points or at least a certain percentage of them.

Don’t forget about surprising and delighting – you may just be surprised and delighted yourself

The benefits of surprise and delight can outweigh the cost – as in a positive ROI. However, you shouldn’t use it as a primary sales driver because there are other more effective, less resource intensive ways to make your prospect and customers happy. And if they’re happy, then you’ll be happy too.

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