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The Power of Surprise and Delight in Building Brand Love

We can all appreciate great surprises, right? Something that is given to us or happens to us that adds just a moment of excitement and delight that we were never expecting. Do you remember the last time you were genuinely and pleasantly surprised by someone? Did that surprise create a deeper bond with that person? Well, the same holds true in marketing. When brands surprise and delight us, we remember that event and it serves as a meaningful deposit into our emotional bank account with that brand. And we know how important creating emotional connections are with consumers in today’s connected economy. Consumers today want brands to not just tell them they care but show them! Surprising and delighting your consumers helps to create a strong emotional bond with your brand … and that’s key when it comes to building brand love!

I’ve had a couple of “surprise and delight” experiences lately that I’m happy to share (building positive word-of-mouth).

Surprise and Delight from the Unexpected

I have to admit that getting PLEASANTLY surprised and delighted by my cable company is something that I never, ever expected. But it happened, and I’m happy to share my experience.

I had been having some connectivity issues and had a cable box remote control that went on the blink, so I called Comcast customer service. After getting through the typical question tree, I was connected with a very pleasant and helpful customer service representative who walked me through the process to resolve my immediate connectivity issues and, after completing her troubleshooting, she told me that I was due a complimentary service call to upgrade my main cable line which would not only keep future issues from occurring but improve our connection speed. After she asked me what the most convenient time FOR ME would be, she quickly scheduled the appointment for the very next morning. When I asked about how to go about replacing the remote control, she directed me to take it to a store very near my home and just exchange it for a new one at no charge. I hung up from that call pleasantly surprised and I remember telling my wife that Comcast has REALLY stepped up their customer service game. The next day, the technician showed up (on time) to upgrade my main cable line. He had read on the service ticket that one of our remotes wasn’t working and he proactively brought a new remote and paired it with our system! What a pleasant surprise … and delight. He not only completed the complimentary service call, he saved me a trip to the local store to swap out my remote!

You might be thinking, that’s not exactly the strongest surprise and delight example, but when you consider the industry and the low bar for customer service satisfaction that has been in place for so very long with that industry, I would argue that it is a game-changer.

Hat’s off to Comcast for stepping up their game in basic customer service, and for finding ways to surprise and delight its customers.

Putting Customer Experience Before Profit

Another recent example of a business surprising and delighting me came from a local restaurant, Peach and the Porkchop in Roswell, GA.

I generally seek out restaurants who offer a corkage fee so that our party can enjoy great bottles of wine without breaking the bank. First of all, not all restaurants offer a corkage fee, which certainly creates a barrier for me to consider dining with them. My experience has been that the ones that do offer a corkage fee typically make you feel a little guilty about bringing in your own bottle of wine. But in the case of Peach and the Porkchop, nothing could be further from the case.

When we arrived at the restaurant with our bottle of wine in a nice leather tote, the owner approached us, welcomed us, and asked what special wine we had brought in. He looked at the bottle and complimented us on our selection and shared that he was aware of that wine but had never been able to offer it in his restaurant. He then took it from us and said he would take very special care of it until our table was ready. When we were seated at our table, our waiter immediately brought out our wine, a very nice decanter, and two appropriate wine glasses. He then proceeded to pour our wine into the decanter and invited us to enjoy. We were immediately impressed by this and were made to feel like VIPs versus cheapskates for bringing in our own bottle of wine.

After an incredible meal, we were prepared to pay our check which should have included the corkage fee. When we saw that there was NO corkage fee on our bill, we asked the waiter if he had forgotten to include it. He immediately explained, “oh no, our manager appreciated you bringing in such a nice bottle of wine and he’s waiving the corkage fee”! Wow, what a surprise and delight moment! The owner could have put profit before customer satisfaction and charged the corkage fee, or not even offered a corkage fee at all. But, he understood that exceeding customer expectations and surprising and delighting them can and will have substantial impact on the emotional connection consumers have with his brand.

Clearly, the restaurant could have focused on the short-term and on maximizing profit from our visit that evening. But by not focusing on short-term profit, but rather making a deposit into our emotional bank account for the restaurant, the owner will end up making so much more money from us over the near term. We have already talked about our great experience and will gladly revisit this restaurant on many occasions to come.

Why These Stories Matter

While these examples might be considered small in the grand scheme of things, I would argue that it is the small things that companies can do that will have the biggest impact. These stories exemplify the idea that companies do not have to spend much time or money, or sacrifice much profit, in order to create genuine surprise and delight moments. And when brands surprise and delight us, we remember that event and it serves as a meaningful deposit into our emotional bank account with that brand. When people surprise and delight us, our bond with them is strengthened and love begins to build. The same holds true for brands with consumers. Find ways to surprise and delight your consumers, and the love, and incremental profits, will follow!


Brad Taylor is a foodservice and CPG marketing veteran with over 34 years of progressive experience in leadership roles at The Coca-Cola Company, Pizza Hut, Inc., and in the advertising agency industry. Brad has consistently led teams to achieve strong B2C results through a keen understanding of how to effectively position and activate brands directly with consumers, and through deep collaboration with B2B partners including customers, franchisees, strategic alliances, and marketing services partners. Brad has direct experience solving marketing challenges with leading brands including Circle K, Coca-Cola, Disney, Domino’s Pizza, HMSHost, Pizza Hut, Sodexo, and others. Additionally, Brad is a skilled orator and facilitator and currently serves as a part-time marketing faculty member at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University.

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