How Surprise Creates a Delightful Customer Experience

Nov 11, 2019

Bret Rachlin, Chief Revenue Officer @KPItarget

Recently, I wrote a LinkedIn article highlighting my trip with my daughter Chloe to Buffalo to see the Philadelphia Eagles play against the Bills. We visited Niagara Falls on Saturday prior to Sunday’s game, and we had a surprisingly unique experience. 

Niagara Falls delivers a thrilling experience on its own, but seeing it among hundreds of Eagles fans takes it to a new level. Since so many people with Philadelphia roots descended on the area for the game, Niagara Falls became a reunion location for Eagles fans. With so many fans wearing Eagles jerseys, hats and shirts, it made it easy for everyone to connect instantly, creating a true community experience. All of us had an enhanced experience.

Seeing the beauty of Niagara Falls while listening to chants of E A G L E S – EAGLES! created a positive memory that will last a lifetime. Niagara Falls and the Philadelphia Eagles will forever be tied together in our minds. 

Obviously, this was an unexpected experience and a wonderful surprise, but how can we as marketers deliver experiences that wow and delight our target customers? Whether it’s B2C or B2B, brands need to offer unique experiences that are positive and memorable to keep their customers engaged. It may not be easy to create experiences like ours at Niagara Falls, but striving to give their customers experiences to make them feel the way all of us felt as we enjoyed one of the wonders of the world should certainly be a regular objective for brands wanting to cut through the noise.

Why should you surprise your customers with cool experiences?

Surprising your customers with cool experiences is one of the few ways you can differentiate yourself from the competition as well as the indirect noise that competes with your brand. This is true for both B2C and B2B. Both customer types expect superior product and service experiences. What’s not expected is when brands deliver experiences that are tailored for specific customers. Catering to your customers with unique experiences will likely increase retention and generate positive word-of-mouth goodwill for your brand.

How to surprise and delight your customers

Now, here’s the hard part – actually surprising your customers with experiences that are worthy of sharing with others. Start with analysis. Analyze your customer base to determine what types of customers you should consider offering tailored experiences. It’s not necessary to create cool experiences for every single customer initially. Segmenting your customers and developing experiences for select groups makes it easier to get started as well as to have success.

For example, let’s say you’re a direct-to-consumer brand that sells socks. You can probably think of a couple of these brands off the top of your head. Not only are these brands competing with each other, but they’re also up against the well-entrenched traditional sock market. How can you get noticed and break out from the pack? Since one of your sock offerings focuses on runners, you could provide your running customers a VIP experience at a popular marathon. 

Some popular marathons are pretty pricey and can be challenging to enter due to such high demand.  To surprise and delight your customers, why not offer them complimentary entry to one of these races and follow that with a concierge approach throughout race weekend? This could include arranging for them to stay at the same hotel, transporting them together to the race expo to pick up their number, and hosting a pre-race dinner along with a post-race celebration. You can also add other surprises throughout the weekend, such as your brand reps cheering them on from various mile markers during the race, delighting them even more. Of course, all of these events would be branded with your logo, generating visibility across the city. Moreover, you’ve created a cool community vibe for your running customers. Other running customers may want to participate in this experience at a future race, and you’ll likely attract new customers from runners who hear about the experience.

Overall, you’ll need to determine a budget for this and track your return on investment, but you’ll likely receive an abundance of positive goodwill from your customers (and their families) who participate in an experience like this. Plus, your customers and others won’t see you simply as a direct-to-consumer sock brand, but they’ll see you as a brand that cares about how they perform in your socks and enhance the marathon-running experience so much that it’ll be one of their most memorable moments of their lives.

To brainstorm how you can surprise and delight your customers with tailored experiences, please reach out to Bret Rachlin (