How does Customer Delight differ from Satisfaction?

We should start with the definitions of satisfaction, delight and loyalty.  According to the dictionary, satisfaction is defined as, the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation.  Delight is, to take great pleasure or joy.  Loyalty is having the feelings of allegiance.  These three simple words have a slightly different meaning, but all have a significant impact on the attitudes and behaviors of customers.

Barry Berman and Ken Blanchard have been studying the differences of satisfaction and delight.  They concluded if you can move customers from being simply satisfied to delighted, the business benefits are enormous.  Companies, who have delighted customers, have created customer loyalty.  Walker Information “has conducted studies that have shown convincing correlations between customer loyalty and profit margins, growth rates, and other measures of market value . 

Blanchard’s view (2007 – Leading at a Higher Level) is that companies need to go beyond simple satisfaction to retain customers and attract new ones.  To do that, he developed a methodology that focuses on creating raving fans, which focuses in the area “decide, discover and deliver plus one percent.   His concluded that was to create raving fans a company has to deliver on the customers expectations and exceed it.    He used the example where a customer forgot a presentation at the hotel.  An employee then flew to Hawaii to hand deliverer it the customer.  The customer was overwhelmed by the experience and the personal touch.  It would be easy to see why this customer is now a raving fan and well beyond any level of mere satisfaction. 

Berman (2005- How to Delight your Customers) was focused on taking satisfied customers to a state of delight.  He concluded that satisfaction is based on fulfilling the expected while delight occurs from the unexpected.  His belief was to link an emotional experience with the customer to create an emotionally positive and memorable experience.  Berman’s study found a critical difference between satisfied vs. delighted. A customer that was delighted was eighty-six percent more likely to buy again as compared to twenty-nine percent that were only satisfied.  Delighting customers is a win for the customers, provides a competitive advantage and results in increased sales and profit for the company.

Creating a customer for life requires companies to take their customers to the next level.  You need to take the relationship with customers from casual to a more intimate relationship of loyalty.  You do that by creating raving fans and delighting them well beyond their expectations.  In a study by Heskett (1994 - Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work) estimated that a five percent increase in loyalty can produce an increase in profits from twenty-five percent to eighty-five percent. 

There is a significant difference between satisfied and delighted customers.  Delighted customers will be more loyal and a business can create create customers for life.  The key for businesses is determine the right customer experience for the right return.

Be Sociable, Share!

Posted under Customers, Shareholder Value, Value Proposition

This post was written by Fred J. Cuen on February 3, 2009

16 Comments so far

  1. Kristina Evey February 7, 2009 5:28 pm

    This is a wonderful article! Anyone can really satisfy a customer. But the companies that go out of their way to truly delight the customers are the ones that will set themselves apart from the ordinary. Customers will go out of their way and often pay more to be delighted. If more companies ingrained the “delight” goal into their cultures, there would be many more stories that would come to mind about how our expectations were exceeded, rather than being able to quickly rattle off the occasions where we were disappointed.

  2. Fred J. Cuen February 8, 2009 9:51 am

    Kristina, I could not agree more with your points. Delight is going beyond the customers expectations. One point of caution is that when we delight customers, we must also take into consideration the financial impact. Your point on why more companies do not ingrain this into their culture is interesting. I have never talked to any company executive who didn’t think creating satisfied, loyal or delighted customers was not important. As you point out, it is not what we say or think, it’s what we do. This has to be a part of the management system just like the P&L. An old saying people respect what we inspect. Fred

  3. Sonia Graham February 14, 2009 4:37 pm

    Well put. As we tell our clients every day – a satisfied customer is one small step away from being a former customer. Satisfaction is the minimal requirements to play – to truly develop a loyal or at least a return customer, one must go beyond satisfaction to delight.

  4. Fred J. Cuen February 16, 2009 9:07 am

    Sonia, your point is well taken and is great advice to your clients. If we want a quick fix, sell them something and move on. If you want to build a base of business for the long haul you need to cultivate the account and grow with them. The hard work was done on the first sales. By building trust and confidence into the relationship you have the opportunity to engage the client over the lifetime of the account. That means bigger rewards over a longer period of time. Fred

  5. Ruel B. Morandarte September 8, 2009 3:54 pm

    for me there is no differences between sastisfaction and delight because it has same value in field of business, to delight is to satisfy, then to satisfy is to delight, but if you cannot understand this word’s try to answer this question can you delight your costumer without delighting? or can you delight with out satisfying your costumer?

  6. Michelle R. Gardner September 21, 2009 7:23 pm

    I think you pose an interesting connection between delight and satisfaction. I’m curious if others feel the same way. I would love to hear from other readers.

  7. Fred September 24, 2009 9:56 am

    Ruel, I agree with you regarding the need for both. I would offer that it is a progression. Where satisfied in the entry level with your competition and delighted takes it to the next level. There are a number of studies that show satisfied customers are prone to defect to the competition. Getting them to delighted is part of retaining them (retention strategy). As you know, customers are more profitable the longer you keep them. Fred

  8. Atin Wahal December 26, 2009 8:25 am

    Fred, i agree that the next level after getting the consumer satisfied is to delight them. However, do you feel the retention strategy sometimes make you forget about the basic requirement of keeping them satisfied. There needs to be a delicate balance between the two and the struggle is keep the consumers delighted and still make them safistied of the prodoct/brand deliveries

  9. Michelle R. Gardner January 1, 2010 7:29 am

    Michelle here…It sounds as if you’re suggesting the retention strategy does not have elements of keeping the customer satisfied. I think the retention strategy is a direct reflection of keeping our customers satisfied and delighted. If we don’t execute on these fundamental elements as directed by our customers, we won’t be working with them year over year. Yes, there is a delicate balance. One that can combine and needs to combine many factors – those given to us by our customers – building one on top of the other.

  10. Fred January 2, 2010 3:13 pm

    Atin, both are equally important. I think you could think of it as phases. First, the product or service has to serve a need for the customer. So they start by being satisfied. From there to retain them for future purchases you need to delight them every time they interact with your company. The cycle (opportunity) repeats itself every time a new product or service is released.

    Customers should be attracted by WOWing” by the product or service (innovation) but for repeat purchases you need to move customers from satisfied to delighted or at least a higher level of satisfaction than your competition. Fj

  11. Solly Nkoana January 10, 2012 3:47 am

    I enjoyed your article.

  12. Pario Liu February 16, 2013 1:15 am

    I really enjoyed your article. I have a question about the relationship between satisfaction and delight. Just as you mentioned that once something meets the expectations, then customer s are satisfied. And if something exceeds their expectations, then it is more likely for them to feel delighted. But from the perspective of companies, delighted customers are more likely to repurchase. It is critical for companies to increase the lever from satisfaction into delight. But do you think the relationship between satisfaction and delight seems to be a circle. As customer is satisfied with a long time, it is time to make creative things to delight them. Once they are delighted, more efforts are needs to enhance their satisfaction.
    How do you think about this circling relationship?

  13. Terry Cain March 21, 2013 9:20 am

    Dear Pario,
    First, I am sorry that I did not see your comment until today! Please forgive me, this is an operational issue with our system and a team member caught it a few minutes ago!
    Second, thank you for your thoughts and your question. With your permission, I will post this conversation on the Blog so others can see and weigh in or join us.

    Satisfaction to delight as a circle…..I agree with you. As we put this under the umbrella of “customer engagement” , we define it as a mutually beneficial relationship. In any time window, consistently satisfying a customer and periodically delighting a customer is likely the pattern that is realistic in a business to business experience. Although there are few experiences where at each customer touchpoint there is “delight”, there should be at least one touch point that offers the opportunity for delight with each encounter. Relationships are dynamic, they are an arena for good things to happen. Sometimes I do not need to be delighted, but satisfaction is required, the needs of my inquiry are met and I am on my way.
    Likely, with the greatest intentions someone or a company process is designed to delight me and I am not in the mood to be delighted, or feel its a waste of effort. This circle is perfect when over time there is a sense of commitment and discernment for the right time to “pull out the stops” and make a delight. If we remember the dynamic, then it becomes less formulaic and offers more sense of special or custom. Thanks again!

    Terry Cain

  14. buying amazon products April 9, 2013 3:20 am

    Just how did you manage to develop a real great audience involving commenters to your internet site?

  15. Terry Cain April 9, 2013 12:51 pm

    Thanks for you note. Actually I am not sure we have a large audience involving commenters on our site. Lately, it seems information flows so quickly people do not take the time to make comments.
    Bloggers who have subject matter that could cause a passionate reaction will gain more momentum. I think its important that people read the content and we know this is happening, even if they do not tell me about it.
    What do you think?

  16. Kay January 23, 2014 11:47 am

    I believe the delight factor would be more effective with high end products, like electronics, mobiles, etc. Consumer products as in FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) hardly ever requires to bring about the delight factor. Essentials and daily use products don’t need much marketing, it becomes more a question of “best buy” more than anything else. However, I do agree that a delighted customer is a customer for life, it would be hard to change loyalty where service rendered is beyond the call of duty…….


Leave a Comment

Name (required)

Email (required)



More Blog Post