Customer Satisfaction vs Delight? Make the Choice for Business Survival

You probably don’t want to read the following sentence.

Up to 75% of customers who leave your business are likely satisfied or highly satisfied with your products and services.

How fair is that?

Fair or otherwise, customers aren’t making purchase and loyalty decisions based on satisfaction – they choose based on emotion!

Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon published a Harvard Business Review article aptly titled “An Emotional Connection Matters More Than Customer Satisfaction, in which they note:

Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level…On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. These emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more – everything you hope their experience with you will cause them to do. Companies deploying emotional-connection-based strategies and metrics to design, prioritize, and measure the customer experience find that increasing customers’ emotional connection drives significant improvements in financial outcomes. The customer experience is a critically important driver of emotional connection.”

Connecting with customers emotionally drives financial outcomes and makes the experiences more memorable. A review article in Psychology World indicates:

“Emotionally charged situations can lead us to create longer-lasting memories of the event. When we are led to experience feelings of delight, anger, or other states of mind, vivid recollections are often more possible than during everyday situations in which we feel little or no emotional attachment to an event.”

Based on many similar studies, here’s my recipe for customer loyalty and referrals:

  •  Add large quantities of “getting it right” (delivering exactly what your customers want throughout their journey),
  •  Mix copious portions of “making it easy and convenient” (reducing the overall effort required for customers to get their needs met), and
  • Sprinkle on a pinch of “delight” (an emotionally engaging element like authentic gratitude that exceeds customer expectations).

Based on this recipe, most clients view customer satisfaction as validation that customers see them as competent. My clients also assume satisfaction places them a “coupon away” from being replaced. Thus, they strive for customer delight and measure themselves with questions like “to what degree did your experience delight you today?”

Are you striving for emotional engagement and customer delight? Are you asking customers to measure you on a delight scale?








To learn more about our team, please visit To speak to me about designing delight into experiences, please go to

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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