Delighting users

Menno van Dijk 1
December 7th, 2016
Article by: Menno van Dijk, Valeria Mecozzi
Delighting users

Delighting users is not about service. It takes the premise of what it means to be a consumer and raises it to new heights. It is not the moment when your customers, clients or beneficiaries acquire your product, but the moment when they use it. If you are able to make that instant and turn it into a delight, an explosion, a secret door in the video game, you’ve created a moment that binds you and your customer.


Delighting users is the “wow!” It’s a spontaneous unexpected personal touch. It makes customers feel special and valued. It’s the moment you come together, and create a talking point.


Take Remy, the rodent protagonist in Pixar's 2007 blockbuster Ratatouille.  Remy dreams of becoming a great French chef despite his family's wishes and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession.


"I know I'm supposed to hate humans, but there's something about them. They don't just survive, they discover, they create. I mean, just look at what they do with food!”


When fate places Remy in the sewers of Paris, he finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau. Despite the apparent dangers of being an unlikely - and certainly unwanted - visitor in the kitchen of a fine French restaurant, Remy's passion for cooking soon sets into motion a hilarious and exciting rat race that turns the culinary world of Paris upside down.

The Special Sauce

Delighting users often comes down to an easy-to-understand-but-incredibly-difficult-to-pull-off recipe, which begins in a universally worshipped quality. For the product to fill a meaningful need it must satisfy safety, food, rest, belonging, connections, contribution, respect, play, or self-actualization. And the product or service needs to be different. A distinctive quality is the result of a deep skill that has been developed over many years.

Product categories lend themselves to greater differentiation than others. We counter that even the most commoditized, low-interest product categories (e.g., base materials, energy, utilities) make it very possible to create products that truly delight users. Putting aside the business rationale, delighting users is what makes your endeavor special, worthy, and memorable. What you and your team have created has brought joy to its user by contribution and meaning.

delighting users
Putting aside the business rationale, delighting users is what makes your work special, worthy, and memorable. Click To Tweet

Simple and reliable

To the notion of distinctiveness one adds simplicity and reliability. A delightful experience seldom requires a manual. The user grasps how to use the product intuitively, even when the possibilities are finite. The product is also trusted and reliable: it does not let you down. Think of a craftsman and his trusted pocketknife; a hot soup on a rainy Wednesday night.

Warmth and warm food has been the mark of civilization for decades, and a point of center inside the home way back into the era of the cave. The primal delight of the senses at the kitchen table follows us into adulthood, and becomes a place of safety and regeneration. Remy the rat makes a magnificent ratatouille, a classic French recipe that everyone can cook and still allows for dedication and mastery.

This, topped with fantastic customer service, which includes a great eye for execution detail, makes the small actions worth noticing and remembering.  The maître d’ will go the extra mile if you mentioned in your reservation that it was your anniversary dinner; the owner might have sacrificed expanding the restaurant to ensure that both patrons and staff know they are stable and have room to expand their skills, learning, and work ethic.

In service industries – like hospitality, health care, education, entertainment, financial services – the opportunities are plentiful because of the human connection between the user and the service provider. Organizations dedicated to user delight empower their front line personnel, and ensure that everyone directly in contact with the user provides authentic attitude that is instilled with purpose, not rules.

Delighting Users
Delighting users is what makes your endeavor special, worthy, and memorable. Click To Tweet

When delight goes viral

Delighting users is not limited to the service industry.  It can be a delight to use a tool, a car, a piece of machinery that is pure craftsmanship. Such products provide functionality you had never expected or a performance that is “off the charts” as compared to anything you have experienced before. Tesla is one impressive example: check the various YouTube movies of Tesla owners proudly and excitedly demonstrating their car to their friends and family.

Delighting users can also be relevant in the public and social sector. Take a government program to support people to become financially sustainable. Providing financial support or giving people menial jobs can make people less unsatisfied, but perhaps only jobs that allow for self-actualization and social respect will truly delight its beneficiaries.

Delighted users are the ones that talk so positively about you that they generate the so-called word of mouth, a crucial element to the success of entrepreneurs and industries. This recommendation from trusted sources is the most reliable source of information and hence the most valuable source of advertisement for your product or service. The word of mouth of delighted users can even go viral, as enthusiastic appraisal of a product or service is contagious.

Positive word-of-mouth from delighted users can go viral. Enthusiastic appraisal is contagious! Click To Tweet

After tasting the dish prepared by Remy the rat, food critic Anton Ego puts his own reputation at risk to endorse the little rat chef’s mastery.

Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.”

Delighted Promoters

Delighting users can make use of a specific metric: the Net Promoter Score (NPS), where users rate the likelihood of recommending the company, product or service on a scale from 0 to 10 to a peer. The top two scores are recognized as Promoters. Scores of 7 and 8 are Passives; below them are the Detractors. The percent of Detractors are subtracted from the percent of responders from the Promoters. The fundamental insight here is that the passives (scoring 7 or 8) are not to be counted: only the delighted users (9 or 10) are promoters. Know how to balance the importance of NPS with your vision, as they need to coexist without overpowering. Remy the rat would have caused a scene if he’d entered the dining room to ask the patrons what they were in the mood for. He combined an extensive number of hours of cooking and aiming for perfection by capturing the essence of what food can do. Even the critic can become a believer.

Delighting users creates a positive surprise, free of manipulation. This is why the imagination and delivery of a product that delights constitute a creative act. Needs-based market research will only inform you of your customers’ articulated needs, not of the needs they do not know. The food critic didn’t know that all he wanted was a taste of his childhood. You can create for your customers something would have never thought to ask for but now that they’ve known it, can no longer imagine being without it.

What do you remember about being struck by delight?

To discover how to delight your users and to join the upcoming THNK Executive Leadership Program, find out if you qualify or download the program brochure on the program page.