Target Delight Instead of Satisfaction | How to Drive Delight the Mercedes-Benz Way

This is the final post in the series, “How to Drive Delight the Mercedes-Benz Way.” 

In my book, Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way, I detail how Mercedes-Benz leaders transformed their customer experience through a clearly defined set of strategic objectives. The goal of those objectives was to transcend customer satisfaction and instead deliver customer delight. So, what are the differences between customer satisfaction and delight and why did Mercedes-Benz set delight as their goal?

As a consultant involved in the Mercedes-Benz “delight” transformation, here’s my take on distinctions between customer satisfaction and delight:

  • Satisfaction involves meeting customer expectations while delight involves exceeding them.
  • Satisfaction is a rational process of assessing outcomes. It is a byproduct of calculations from our frontal lobes.
  • Delight is an emotional process and activates the limbic system.  Delight emerges from feeling positively surprised. A common delight utterance is “wow.”
  • Satisfying experiences are easily forgotten. They fade into the background. Delightful experiences, by contrast, are easily remembered.
  • Satisfying experiences are seldom shared. Delightful experiences are seldom kept to oneself. Many of them get reshared, and some go viral.
  • Delightful experiences are typically the result of teamwork and usually reflect small gestures as opposed to heroic efforts.

So now that we’ve defined the terms, let’s look at why you might want to shoot for delight.

Consumer research shows that up to 75 percent of customers who stop doing business with a company were satisfied or even “very satisfied” when they left. Clearly, when Mercedes-Benz dealers dissatisfy customers – those customers are likely to leave. Unfortunately, when Mercedes-Benz satisfies them – that didn’t ensure that they are going to return or recommend the luxury automaker. By contrast, when brands like Mercedes-Benz satisfy and deliver positive emotions, customers report higher engagement levels that predict repeat business and referrals. To put a finer point on it, Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon, published powerful research findings in a Harvard Business Review article, aptly titled An Emotional Connection Matters More Than Customer Satisfaction.

In that article Zorfas and Leemon 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 drive significant improvements in financial outcomes. The customer experience is a critically important driver of emotional connection.”

Bringing the Zorfas/Leemon research in line with the Mercedes-Benz approach, delight is viewed as an essential ingredient in customer loyalty. More specifically, leaders at Mercedes-Benz looks at loyalty as a mix of:

  • “Getting it right” (delivering exactly what customers want throughout their journey)
  • “Making it easy” and convenience (reducing the overall effort required for customers to get their needs met)
  • Forging a personal emotional connection that results in “delight” (an emotional reaction that occurs when you and your colleagues pleasurably exceed customer expectations)

Given the Mercedes-Benz approach to driving delight, here are this week’s challenge questions:

  1. Are you measuring customer satisfaction or delight?
  2. How emotionally connected are your customers? Is the strength of that connection producing more purchases, more visits, and less price sensitivity?
  3. What are you doing to “get it right,” “make it easy,” and forge personal emotional connections with your customers?

I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of Driven to Delight or if you already own it, I’d appreciate you taking the time to write a review on Amazon. You can also schedule a time to talk about delighting your customers every time. As you pursue world-class customer experiences, I hope you will be Driven to Delight.

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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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