Imagine this …

You’re long, loooooong overdue for a haircut.

When you finally get to the salon your regular stylist greets you at the front door.

“What would you like to get done today?” she asks. “Just a trim like always?”

Her question irks you a bit. Are you really that predictable? 

“No,” you blurt out. “I want the full shebang—a cut and color. And let’s throw in a wax too while we’re at it.”

After 2 hours of pampering, you feel like a whole new person. 

You head to the front desk to pay your bill and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror—you look great.

The stylist swipes your credit card, smiles, and then asks, “Red or white?”

“Huh?” you say. “What do you mean?”

“Do you want red or white?” she repeats.

“Uh… I dunno. White I guess.”

She reaches under the desk and hands you a bottle of white wine.

“Here you go,” she says. “Anyone who looks as good as you do deserves a toast. Enjoy!”

How do you feel at that moment?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re taking a look at Delight – how delivering unexpected value can drive long-term customer loyalty. 

Let’s get into it.


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The Psychology of Delight 🧠

The human brain is constantly evaluating our environment. When we encounter something unexpected—something surprising—we’re thrown off guard.

We actually freeze for 1/25th of a second trying to figure out what is happening.

Surprise intensifies our emotions, for better or worse. If the surprise is negative, like suddenly getting cut off in traffic, we may feel very angry. Whereas positive surprises, like receiving a free gift, will trigger an intense flood of positive emotions that behavioral economists refer to as “delight.”

Delight is different from ‘satisfaction.’ We’re satisfied when an experience meets our expectations. But when it exceeds our expectations, we’re delighted.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

Your buyer expects a positive outcome when they buy from you. When you deliver on that expectation, they’re satisfied.

But, if you go above and beyond and deliver unexpected value, buyers may be delighted.

Multiple studies show that delight—not satisfaction—drives brand loyalty.

Customers who have a surprisingly delightful experience will purchase more and often tell their friends about it. Therefore delighting buyers is great for the bottom line.

The challenge is that once a customer comes to expect getting something extra, it ceases to delight them. This creates both an opportunity and a challenge for brands.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Give unexpected gifts

Buyers love getting something extra for free. The gift doesn’t need to be expensive, but it must be unexpected if you aim to delight. For example, offering customers a small gift or discount on their birthday is a nice gesture, but it’s become quite common. If you really want to delight customers, send them a gift on their half-birthday. That would surprise them. 

Underpromise and overdeliver

Look for small ways to deliver unexpected value. That could mean delivering a product or finished project earlier than estimated (Apple often does this). Or doing more work than expected without an additional fee.

Know when to up the ante

Delivering delight consistently requires innovation. DoubleTree was the first hotel chain to offer guests a free cookie when they checked in. When they started this tradition in 1986, it was novel.

Embrace delegation

But DoubleTree’s free cookie generated a lot of buzz in the hotel industry, and it wasn’t long before other hotel chains followed suit and started offering free cookies as well. Today, free cookies at hotels are somewhat commonplace. And guests returning to a DoubleTree have come to expect them. That means that DoubleTree must do something new if they seek to delight their guests. 

DoubleTree employees receive special training and are empowered to find unique ways to delight guests. It’s all part of their C.A.R.E. culture (ie. Caring, Attentive, Responsive, and Empowered). 

The Short of It 💥

If you wish to delight buyers, you must surprise them with unexpected value. 

Customers will grant more loyalty to brands that delight them, but delight is fleeting. Brands must consistently up the ante if they wish to create a wow-worthy experience.

Until next time, happy selling!



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

There are a few ways I can help:

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Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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