Hi, folks! Thank you so much for checking out my article on delighting customers at scale – the topic that first got me excited about customer marketing. My name is Patrick Kalie. I’m a Customer Marketing Manager at a company called Quorum in Washington DC, where we make software for public affairs professionals.
Patrick Kalie is now a Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Swoogo.
Before I became a customer marketing manager, I was a customer success manager, creating delightful experiences one on one with each of my customers. I wanted to do that on a bigger scale, so I became a customer marketing manager. Now I’m able to take what I learned as a customer success manager and spread it across our entire user base to create one delightful customer journey.
Today, my goals are to share my formula for delight (which is just a pretentious way of saying, “These are the things I look for whenever I'm trying to create a delightful experience”) and give you a bunch of tactics to make delightful experiences. I hope you come out of this with a few ideas to bring up at your next team meeting or implement for your user base.
Always remember that as the customer marketing manager, you're the role model for the rest of your team when it comes to how to interface with your clients. If you're creating a delightful experience for your whole customer base, that gives everybody else – whether they're on the support team, the success team, or the accounting team – the agency to go out of their way to delight your users too. That way, delighting your users becomes the baseline expectation.
Now, let’s get into how we make delight happen.
My formula for delight
To me, delight means conscious joy or satisfaction – not only are you creating a delightful experience for your users, but they're aware of it and they know that you are the one that brought them joy. That means they're going to build better longer-lasting allegiances with your brand.
So how do you know if the experiences you’re creating truly are delightful for your customers? By using my delight score, of course! Here’s how to calculate it:
Quality + Specificity + Ease – Expectations
To illustrate this, let’s take a quick example of a birthday gift for your great-grandmother. First, let’s think about quality. Whatever you get her, you want it to be good – that’s pretty obvious, right? Oftentimes, we stop here, and that is not delightful. We’re like, “I got you this good thing, so you should be happy with it!”
This is where specificity comes into the picture. A top-of-the-line iPad – undoubtedly a quality gift – is not a great gift for my great-grandmother. She doesn't even know how to use a computer! No matter how much I tell her what a great gift this is, she is not going to be delighted by it. Specificity matters.
Next comes ease. Am I making it easy to participate? In other words, is it easy to receive this gift? For example, I'm not going to get my great-grandmother a 15-foot blow-up dinosaur. While I might think that’s really delightful, she has no place to put a 15-foot blow-up dinosaur, and she certainly doesn’t have the stamina to inflate it, so it’s going to be a burden for her.
Finally, we have expectations. What is she used to getting for her birthday? I have to meet or – better yet – exceed those expectations.
When you integrate quality, specificity, ease, and expectations, you’ll give a really delightful birthday present. Let’s dig into how we can apply this same principle to delighting our customers.
The first thing I want to talk about is quality. I'm going to share a bunch of the tactics I've used to create quality products for my users and my customer base.
I often think about this quote from Ann Handley: “When we create something, we think, ‘Will our customers thank us for this?’” Oftentimes, as marketers, we're really excited about engagement and getting eyes on the screen, but eyes aren't enough. We want them to get something out of our content.
It’s like the old chestnut about not selling a drill but selling a hole. We're not giving customers a case study, we're not giving them a how-to video – we're giving them a new solution. To nail this, we always have to ask ourselves if there’s demand for what we’re offering.
I’m going to share a few tactics I use to make sure that there is demand for the content or program that I'm creating, that users would thank us for it, and that it’s really high quality.
Step one: Get topic ideas from your users
First, I gather content ideas from my communities and customers to make sure that I’m creating something they’re interested in – they know what they want better than I do. If they suggest something, I'll go ahead and create it or work with them to shape it into something they’ll get value from.
Step two: Follow up on feedback and offer rewards for it
Whenever we get feedback, we need to make sure that we're following up on it. We should always try to show how we put their feedback to use. It doesn't always have to be the finished result either. If you haven’t had the chance to implement their feedback, you can just say, “I mentioned your comment during a meeting today, and the product team seemed really interested.”
You can also offer rewards for their feedback to show that getting feedback really means something to you. Money goes a long way! That being said, the reward doesn't always have to be monetary. It might be an opportunity to engage with your executives or even some company swag. Let me show you an example of one of our most successful swag items. Meet my dog, Gretel.
No, she is not a swag item. The bandana she's wearing is the swag item. Those bandanas only cost us about $2 apiece to make, but they’re among our most requested swag. That’s not only because they’re nice and stretchy and high-quality – it’s because they’re emblazoned with a quote on it that our users identify with and cherish. The bandanas have gone over really well on social media, and we've gotten a lot of pictures of dogs wearing them.
The rule I've found when it comes to rewards is that most people would rather get a higher-quality less expensive item than a lower-quality higher-price item. For instance, it’s better to give a great pen or a dog bandana that you’ve put a lot of thought into, rather than a cheap jacket or a flimsy tech toy.
Now that we’ve seen how you can create a quality item or piece of content for your customers – the first ingredient of delight – I’m going to share my three top tips on how you can make it specific to them.
Tip one: Make sure your audience would say “I was looking for that!”
Before you create anything, ask yourself if your audience would say, “Ooh! I was looking for that!” or if somebody who knows them well would send it to them. I segment my users to make sure that everything they get is relevant to them. That way, they want to keep coming back and seeing my content.
Here’s how I tailor content to my target audience:
- I use Google Trends to discover what questions people are asking, then I can directly answer those questions in a webinar or roundtable.
- Speaking of roundtables, I host frequent roundtables with my users to hear what they're thinking and what questions they have related to our market. Once we've done that, and I've gathered feedback from other folks as well, we're able to put together fine-tuned pieces of content that are relevant to that specific audience.
- I use our help center and support queries to see what our audience has the most questions about or needs the most help with, and then I create content based on that.
Tip two: Use usage data to gather feedback on specific workflows
I also use usage data to gather feedback on specific workflows, rather than just asking all of our users how satisfied they are. Granted, we do track NPS and customer satisfaction, but in order to get more fine-tuned feedback, I'll reach out to users who have done specific things in our product and make sure that they're happy with the workflow. Similarly, after they've engaged with one of our workshops or webinars, I'll send them a follow-up.
Tip three: Share why they’re a great fit
Whenever you're trying to gather customer stories or case studies or you want customers to speak at an event, you always have to show why they're a great fit to speak.
It's not enough to say “We need more case studies – would you like to be in one?” You have to let them know that you’re looking for folks in their specific industry to talk about one specific thing that you know they are fantastic at. Make it clear that you think the customer you’re speaking to is the best one for the job.
This approach extends far beyond just case studies and participating in your content. If you're asking for feedback, you want to say “You've done XYZ, and we’d love to hear what your thoughts are.”
Likewise, if you want them to participate in a webinar, attend an event, or listen to content, you should be using your users’ attributes to reiterate why this is going to be valuable to them. Using mail merge tools and placeholders, you can create personalized messages for all of your users and make them feel like you're inviting them personally.
Tip four: Identity is a tool
Lastly, identity is a tool that you can use. Let me give you an example. At Quorum, we have a user group, called the Quorum Wonks. If you've never heard the term wonk before, you're not alone – I wasn't super familiar with this word either before I came to Quorum. A wonk is like a policy nerd. Like I said, we work in the public affairs industry, and public policy is a big part of that.
We noticed that our users kept referring to themselves as wonks, policy wonks, political wonks, and so on, so we looked at the market research and confirmed that a lot of folks identify with this term. We named our user group Quorum Wonks, and a massive flood of users joined because they identified so strongly with it. In short, I highly recommend shaping your brand and initiatives around what your users call themselves and the identities they relate to.
The next thing I want to talk to you about is ease. Ask yourself these three questions:
- Are you making it easy for folks to participate in the campaigns and programs you're running?
- Are you being inclusive of folks with different abilities?
- Are you being inclusive of the different ways that folks might want to participate?
Someone who has a hard time hearing won't get as much out of your webinars as someone who has perfect hearing. Some folks may not be willing to sit down with a product manager because they're shy or they don't really like talking to people. Make sure you’re offering numerous ways for folks to participate in your campaigns to give yourself the best chance of attracting everyone.
Here are a few ways I do that:
One: Manage the number of logins
We decided to host our community on LinkedIn because all of our users were already there. It also meant they were able to grow their network using our LinkedIn community, which they loved. Plus, our users had told us they didn't want to have to log into a new platform – they had enough logins to deal with already. Since our LinkedIn community allows for easy participation and minimal logins, it’s seen tremendous success.
Two: Be prescriptive about how users can get involved
It's more helpful to say, “Refer a friend by going to XYZ website,” than, “Refer a friend.” Maybe there are a bunch of different ways that users can get involved, but make sure that you can direct them specifically on how to do that. It's a lot easier for them to participate if you're being prescriptive than if you're being vague.
Three: Use forms and automation
Use forms and automation to gather the information that's important to you, so that users feel productive and know they're helping in a meaningful way.
Four: Make sure that your content is available on-demand
In-person conversations and live events are really impactful, but they're not for everybody. Not everybody has the time to take a meeting or participate in a webinar. They might want to watch it later at 2x speed or with subtitles. Make sure that you're being inclusive of those folks so they can also participate
Five: Offer numerous ways to get feedback and be proactive
Don’t just have a link on a landing page that users might click on to offer feedback. Reach out to your customers to ask their opinions, and offer a bunch of different ways for them to share them.
Six: Qualify through content to avoid wasting users’ time
I used to have a group of customers that had opted into getting a calendar invite for every single workshop or webinar we hosted. After the fifth or sixth workshop, they stopped attending. I was wondering why, so I reached out to a few of them, and they all said that after the first one, they realized they weren’t going to get anything out of the workshops so they stopped attending.
Now, that first workshop was on a very niche subject matter that was only relevant to a particular segment of our users. That group of customers attended, realized it wasn't worth their time to be there, and assumed that none of the other workshops would be either. You can avoid this kind of situation by being very descriptive about the content that you're about to offer so customers know if it will be beneficial for them.
The final element of our formula for delight is expectations. Think about what your customers are used to and what you can do to stand out. Here’s how:
- Gather feedback from individual contributors on your team. What have they done that’s surprised and delighted their customers? Try to do that at scale.
- Constantly look for inspiration from your peers. Chances are that you've gotten emails from other customer marketing managers or product marketing managers – look to see what they're doing that stands out or, on the flip side, what you could do to step it up a bit.
- Target moments in the customer journey that traditionally suck. If you can make those moments fun, you’re going to create space between you and your competitors.
- Use boring times to your advantage. Everybody gets gifts around the holidays and their birthday, so they have high expectations for those moments. Not everybody gets a great gift on a random Tuesday. Try to figure out where the most boring moments are in the customer journey and inject some delight.
Test your projects
I hope you got a bunch of inspiration from the tips I shared here. Now go and test your projects for quality, specificity, ease, and expectations. When you make full use of each of those elements in your programs and campaigns, you’ll be sure to delight your customers. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my advice on creating delight. This really has been delightful.