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Amazing Customer Service Stories: How To “Surprise and Delight”

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[Updated 11/15/2021]

‘Surprise and delight’ customer service campaigns seek out ways to create a brand experience that goes above and beyond the typical customer experience.

Brand marketing is constantly evolving and today’s customers want to engage with their favorite brands in a more innovative way.

A quick Google search on famous brands like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon will show you the immersive surprise and delight campaigns that made them loved by their target audience. 

For startups and enterprises, ‘surprise and delight (S&D)’ campaigns help create powerful connections with customers, as well as show appreciation, leading to long-lasting relationships. We live in a world where competition for attention grows constantly among businesses and where loyalty benefits are becoming a norm. In order to stand out, it’s essential for marketers to establish an emotional connection to consumers, drive repeat purchases, and increase overall revenue.

Brands like Apple, Taco Bell, and Nike have all created ‘surprise and delight’ campaigns that have gone viral across the globe, proving to us that this isn’t a fad, but should be a foundational element to your marketing strategy. Companies are showcasing these strategies across different channels like Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, advertising, custom events, and more to amplify their campaigns.

Why is the element of surprise so important to us? According to Harvard Business Review, surprise is the most powerful marketing tool of all. A surprise can make someone’s day. It might be a free meal at your favorite restaurant, a freebie when you buy a product, a birthday gift from your favorite brand. Or it could involve a complimentary room upgrade at your hotel. Whatever it may be, surprises have a way of making a good experience an unforgettable one.

Brands can achieve perfect delivery of the ‘S&D’ strategy in a number of tailored and creative ways. In 2015, Bud Light took this tactic to a new level and created a secret party town, Whatever, USA in Catalina. This campaign was an all-inclusive event for 1,000 of Anheuser-Busch brand’s lucky fans. It was a weekend full of concerts, celebrity appearances and various surprises for those who attended. The AB brand hosted dozens of media outlets to the weekend event, which created thousands of pieces of content that were shared all over social media. Not only was this a great way to create buzz with the brand’s current fans and consumers, but it was also an opportunity to find and engage with new customers and create amazing customer service stories.

MasterCard is another great example of going above and beyond for their customers. The global company previously launched the ‘Priceless Surprises’ marketing campaign. In this campaign, MasterCard targeted current MasterCard holders who used the hashtag #PricelessSurprises on social media channels like Twitter and Instagram. The company monitored the hashtag and offered unique prizes to hashtag users, all in real-time. A factor in the success of this campaign was driven by its ability to create emotion and influence consumer behavior. Participants were then inspired to share their own ‘Priceless Surprises’ experience with their personal network via social media, which was essentially free advertising for MasterCard.

It’s important for startups and enterprises to include these tactics in their marketing strategies, but it takes time, and planning, and a few coffees or drinks with your project management/marketing team. If you’re a brand that is looking to introduce a ’surprise and delight’ marketing campaign, you don’t have to be an expert to make it a successful one. Take a look at these five recommendations on strategy below:

How to implement a ‘surprise and delight’ campaign:

  1. Align your ‘surprise and delights’ with business goals: First, identify what it is that your brand is trying to get out of this campaign. Do you want to have more sales, gain exposure, attract new customers, or re-engage with existing customers? Whatever it may be, it’s important to define your objectives, and figure out what you will need to do to achieve your end goals.  If you are looking to retain customers, loyalty programs can also be offered in a surprise and delight campaign.
  2. Identify the right amount of spend: Not all ‘surprise and delight’ campaigns have to push the limits of your budget. For example, a few small surprises that are low-cost to a smaller audience, could be more beneficial than a grand gesture to a larger audience. It all comes down to which audience would it impact the most and does it align with your business goals. A complimentary coffee to your recurring customer is a small but remarkable surprise that has a potential to go viral. If you target every breathing consumer, you will miss the mark, spend a lot and yet not leave an impact. That is why tip #3 is crucial in a surprise and delight campaign.
  3. Determine your target audience: The more detailed the campaign, the better. Before executing the ‘surprise and delight’ campaign, you need to figure out which customers or segments you are wanting to go after. Do you intend to focus, parents, youth, specific individuals, or teams? Perhaps on your existing customers’ family members? It is also imperative to know what age group, location, or basic interest you are trying to reach. The targeted audiences relate back to your business goals, so determine which customers would gain the most from the initiative.
  4. Figure out what type of surprise is relevant: Figure out what your customers would appreciate the most to boost engagement, but also to make sure it goes along with your business. It is good to have a good sense of humor to have an interesting campaign. You can also have your surprise printed on paper. Nevertheless, before starting a ‘surprise and delight’ campaign, do your research and look into which rewards would be popular amongst your targeted audience. Opinions from social media, blogs, or from people in town can also be beneficial to your surprise research. From there, happy customers resulting from your ‘surprise and delight’ campaign tend to invite growth in your brand’s exposure.
  5. Make the surprise impactful: Customers want to feel valued and appreciated and this is normally done by customer support, but if you want to stand out you can do this directly in your campaign. Put some thought into what it is that you are looking to surprise your audience with. This is where you can utilize your problem-solving skills. Learning is huge in the age of information, you can attempt to incorporate free lessons/classes as part of your campaign. Clothes are also something people could use even after the event, so it would be cool to create a  T-shirt or some sort of clothing apparel as a freebie. Blog and social media is great resource for looking to see what it is that your customers are talking about. Try to have an interaction with your customers through various channels to see how you can build your surprise event based on your customers’ wants and needs. There may be an opportunity to connect and engage with customers offering an incredible ‘surprise and delight’ they won’t forget.

Whatever industry you are in, leveraging the surprise and delight strategy is a must when looking to increase loyalty and brand recognition. In order to be effective, follow the steps listed above and you are one step closer to being treated as the mother of all (insert your brand niche)! Simply remember that it’s important to include this strategy when doing the project management as well as when executing your marketing campaigns. There may be a problem with the planning and execution of the campaign, but try to approach it positively. Be focused on your goal without obsessing over the perfection of your marketing strategy and execution.

Remember that cost isn’t everything, and giving away a brand discount or a gift card is not the only way to go about it. Be sure to tailor your S&D’s to the intended target audience. Create an online community, create a subscription business model for your loyal customers, help them release worry and provide inspiration in a cutomers-only forum.

In addition to exceeding your customer’s expectations, and providing consumer motivation, be sure to analyze the results, so that you may continue to improve your efforts for future accommodations. This can be done by capturing the consumer and social data throughout each campaign and updating your market research every quarter Brand awareness is a great way to connect with your target audience and find what they want from you. Be prepared to followup your surprise and delight campaign with an awesome sales strategy and avoid product churning.

Don’t believe these tactics work? I can recall several occasions where I have been on the receiving end of a surprise and delight tactic, which led me to share my experience with the brand through my social network.

Recently, I went on a holiday trip to visit some friends in Miami. A new restaurant had just opened up that was creating all the buzz and conversation around town. This place had a wait-list that was booked ahead for weeks in advance, so the chances of getting to go were slim to none. I commented on one of the restaurant’s photos on Instagram, saying that I was only in town for a couple of days and was dying to check this place out. An employee from the restaurant reached out to me via Instagram DM and invit

It was an awesome experience from start to finish and that is something I hope we continue to retain customers and attract new ones. This type of customer service with empathy, removes any disappointment I had and is what makes a good experience a great one, affects consumer behaviour which leads to Customer Loyalty. At Simplr, we like to take a dose of our own medicine by surprise and delighting our customers as often as we can. We do this by piquing clients’ curiosity, developing relationships with them and providing valuable assets that can help create a great experience. Don’t believe us and thinks this is all theory

See what our customers are saying about Simplr here

“Our customers like being able to chat with a human on the other end. I feel like there’s no difference between our Simplr Specialists and our in-house agents. It’s still acting as another person who works for us on the other end of the email or chat. We haven’t had any customer reaction to the change that we made. It was a pretty seamless change for us.” – 5 / 5 stars! – Laura Cantor, Eleven Commerce (Reviewed November 26, 2018)

as seen on forbes simplr-1