The Superheroes of Customer Delight – Part 1

Part I: The Origin of Business Superheroes

Superheroes are a big deal. We read about them in comic books. We watch their adventures each week on TV. We spend billions of dollars to see them on the silver screen. These superheroes protect Earth from the people and things that would do us harm if left to fend for ourselves.

Yet superheroes are fiction; they aren't worthy of intellectual business consideration. Right?

Wrong!

Every business has met potential superheroes, although far too frequently, they're not recognized as such. Surprised? Don't be - superheroes are experts in keeping their secret identities, well, secret.

Who are these masked wonders who have the power to save, protect, and serve businesses? Perhaps the more appropriate question is: What are these superheroes' origin story?

Superheroes in business are not born of tragedy, like Batman. They don't own a Lasso of Truth like Wonder Woman. They do not craft metallic body armor and fly like Iron Man.

No.

Superheroes in business emerge from something significantly more magical - an emotional connection to a brand that has transcended ordinary customer satisfaction that has been transformed into customer delight.

But wait, aren't "Customer Satisfaction and "Customer Delight the same thing? Are we simply splitting the preverbal hair? No. Satisfaction and delight exist in highly differentiated Customer Experience (CX) spheres!

Spoiler Alert!

Customer Satisfaction merely delivers a brand's promise and fulfills its obligations to consumers.

In sharp contrast, Customer Delight (CD) considers satisfaction as the CX bare minimum. CD surpasses mere mortal Customer Satisfaction and pulls the customer into an emotional state that drives differentiation from competitors, increases loyalty, and exceeds expectations. This loyalty - in combination with the heightened state of the consumer's positive emotions toward the brand - encourages these customers to spread the gospel of your business.

When a brand has delighted a customer, this customer is reborn as a potential superhero!

If this sounds familiar to you - and we hope that it does - you know that the action taken by these superheroes has another name in business: Word-of-Mouth Marketing. As the world becomes ever smaller each day through digital connections, Word-of-Mouth Marketing is becoming a bigger, more impactful, and more critical component of an organization's marketing mix - whether it realizes it or not.

According to Lithium.com, Word-of-Mouth Marketing "influences 50% of purchase decisions, while a mere 1000 customers, "can generate up to 500,000 conversations your brand. This is the sort of scale that superheroes deliver to the competitive battlefield when interacting with the marketplace to the benefit of your brand. These conversations could be in favor of or damage a brand, depending on how a company interacts with customers.

Batman and Robin who? They wish they could serve Gotham so effectively!

Modern Word-of-Mouth Marketing

In year's past, word-of-mouth marketing was fairly simple to understand. Consumers interacted with a brand and would then talk about their brand experience with their families, friends, and colleagues. Anyone that this consumer told about either the brand or the experience would then make a decision for themselves (and perhaps additional people/businesses) whether or not they would also interact with the brand. A poor experience would likely end the cycle of communication - to the detriment of the brand. An excellent experience would keep the Word-of-Mouth Marketing communication cycle chugging along.

The arrival of the Internet Age - and more recently, the Social Media Age - furthered the ability and scope of these influencers to spread their opinions and thoughts about a brand beyond simple face-to-face conversations or letters. These consumers don't have the capability to write mass emails, to blog, to create videos on YouTube, to post updates to Facebook and Twitter and to review their experiences with our brands on such sites as Yelp.

In short, the scope, the reach, and the immediacy of Word-of-Mouth Marketing can now reach is global... and lightning quick. A single poor CX experience the night before now has the power to ruin your company's reputation before you even drink your morning cup of coffee - and before you even know it, it's happening! Organizations no longer have the luxury of ignoring Word-of-Mouth Marketing, if they ever truly even did. In fact, social media has become an extension of Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

Don't believe me?

In a recent article on Inc.com, Jonah Berger, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, stated, "Word-of-mouth is 10 times more effective than traditional [advertising]," with the reason being that consumers generally do not put their trust in advertisements. Because superheroes generally don't accept payment for their services the people they interact with tend to trust them more. After all, their reputation is on the line every time they make a recommendation!

Think that you can escape the superhero effects of word-of-mouth marketing, because you are an SEO king or queen? Think again! Lithium.com reveals, "25% of search results for the world's top-20 largest brands are links to user-generated content! That's organic search not paid search/pay-per-click! Said another way: 25% of search engine results for these brands are free advertising! In effect, an organization is able to realize a higher ROI with the marketing dollars that they do spend because it has a network of superheroes working on its behalf for free!

Let's end here for now. That was a lot to digest - especially if you're new to Customer Delight... and superheroes. Now that we know who superheroes are, be sure to come back tomorrow to learn how superheroes can and do impact your business.

Michael Buenaventura

July 27, 2016