“Surprise and delight” is the new “join the conversation”. Seriously. The Google Trends don’t lie…

Join the conversation

Join the conversation

Surprise and delight

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“Surprise and delight” is now included in many a marketing plan, a fact either heartwarming or depressing. It probably depends on if you work in the industry or not.

The thing is, when was the last time you were truly surprised and delighted? The term has become so overused that most marketers would consider this box ticked when they send out a spontaneous 10% off email. Christmas, that is not.

Which is not to say this strategy never works – an unexpected dose of awesome is never unappreciated (well, maybe that’s not entirely true). When done well, brands get good PR and happy customers. Uniqlo’s 3D printing “Selfless Selfie” was a perfect example of the tactic done well. Trend forecaster WGSN’s advice to brands on this and other such stunts is, “Go for the PR story, but do so authentically.”

These PR wonder stunts are fantastic, but are, for the most part, limited in their reach and quite frankly out of most company’s budgets. So what’s a customer-loving brand to do?

Enter email (and friendly humans). This whole musing began when, after leaving some average Uber driver feedback via an app prompt, an ACTUAL HUMAN sent me an email! My new Uber pal apologised for my experience and gave me a partial refund to what the fare should have been.

The refund was nothing; it wouldn’t even buy a cup of coffee. But that wasn’t what I was hoping to accomplish or expecting through leaving feedback (the point of which was to help other future passengers avoid a sub-standard trip). But was I surprised and delighted that someone out in the wilds of the internet was listening? Yes. 100%. I’d always assumed that online feedback went to the same place all my bobby pins and spare socks go – which is to say a mysterious black hole.

So what would that have costed Uber? The refund (negligible) and a solid customer service employee’s salary. The sad fact is that the bar is set so low in this area, (and we are all so accustomed to receiving automated communications) that the odd human gesture goes a long way. It’s the surprise and delight equivalent of a thoughtful handmade gift vs. a flashy Apple Watch.

It’s something to consider. What ways can your company come out from behind the software and say hello? How can you reassure your customers they are being heard?