When it comes to customer experience, are surprise and delight the same thing?

I used to think they were, but I’ve recently discovered that not all surprises are created equally. Some are positive, and some can really let you and the business down.

Surprise and delight can be used interchangeably when speaking about the customer experience (CX). The concept behind this is that a business delights a customer by surprising them with something they weren’t expecting.

It had me a little confused, until I was talking to a client who was telling me about an experience they had had with a luxury car company. The client had bought two high-end cars, and received complimentary tickets to track days and champagne events. When telling me, I exclaimed, “Wow! That’s amazing! You must have been over the moon?”

What she said next shocked me.

“Yes, it was lovely, but I expected it considering how much we spent”.

This was when I had an epiphany, and finally understood the difference! “So, you were delighted but not surprised?” Only a subtle difference, but that was exactly how she felt as she nodded her head in response.

Surprise without the delight

Delighting a client is important. Delight comes from giving superior, hassle free and exceptional service each time there is contact. When a business surprises a client but fails to delight them, it shows that they have really missed the mark in the client experience. This means that the client has received something that wasn’t beneficial nor in line with the experience they had been expecting. Usually in the form of some tacky promotional product that is branded with company logos. Products like this are all about self-promotion rather than personalisation and adding value to the clients life.

Another example could be if a business provides a less than desirable experience and then sends the client a gift card. The client might view it as an entitlement to make up for inadequate service. Which is a complete opposite to being a great surprise and strengthening the relationship.

Delight minus the surprise

But what if you manage to delight your clients with great service, but fail to surprise them. Just like my friend who bought the two luxury cars? This failure occurs when a business thinks they know what the client wants, rather than putting in the leg work to find out what would actually surprise and amaze them.

Surprise and delight can only happen when you know and understand your clients. In this space it is really important to go deep into the client’s personal world. Find out what would really move them emotionally. Simple conversations which involve listening to your clients as they share about their life experiences. Ask questions and actively listen to the answers — this is basic stuff, but too often ignored.

Delight with a surprise – win/win

I recently planned an experience for a client who had purchased a ring at Xennox Diamonds. After conducting some research on Facebook, I discovered that the client enjoyed eating at seafood restaurants. You would be surprised what you can find on social media, with a simple search.

I found an upmarket seafood restaurant in the heart of Brisbane city. After spending some time speaking with the manager, he agreed to put together an eight-course degustation seafood menu. 

But the delight didn’t end there. 

I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if there were also matched wines. Now that would have been lovely if i had left it there, but I wanted to go all out for this client. So I organised a special butler to be at the table to help them with anything their hearts desired.

But the delight didn’t end there.

Then I thought, wouldn’t it be really special to personalise the menu card. So we placed the client’s name at the top, and when the manager asked if I also wanted to put my logo on the menu, I said, definitely not! This experience was not about me, but instead, about the client.

But the delight didn’t end there.

I wanted to really blow them away, so to top off the evening I organised transport for the client. That way they could completely enjoy the evening without worrying about driving. This surprise was one to absolute delight, and the natural flow on effect was a client who could not help but rave to others about the amazing experience they had received.

Using creativity and a ‘can-do’ mindset, is absolutely essential to surprise and delight. What would you do if there were no rules, no one telling you something couldn’t be done? Your creativity could be limitless!

So, is there a moral to this story?


The Next Level!

Just when you think you can’t go any further in surprising and delighting your client, there is always another level to aim for. Taking the time to get to know what will truly delight your clients will leave them scratching their head wondering how you knew them so well. Having said that, you don’t need to twist yourself in knots to achieve an elaborate and over-the-top surprise every time. It could be as simple as knowing a client likes sparkling water instead of still, or a bottle of red wine over white. The key is personalisation.

Consider incorporating an amount from every transaction you make, and directing it to surprise and delighting your clients. Imagine the impact this would have on your business if you contributed ten percent of your sales to this method. Not only will you achieve amazing Google reviews, but also referral business through word-of-mouth would go through the roof.

When you can surprise and delight a client this way, I can guarantee that asking clients for a Google review will become a lot easier. Apart from an amazing Google review that potential clients will read with anticipation of receiving the same experience, they will be sure to send lots of clients your way in the future.


Ready to surprise and delight your clients, while enhancing your online reviews? 5 Star Google Reviews helps small business owners leverage the great work they are doing to generate leads and sales for their business. We offer consistent lead flow that allows our clients to focus on what they love doing, making a bigger impact to their family, community and the world!

Sign up to a discovery call, take the Get Sales from Google Score, or join our Facebook group.