More than a feeling? Toward a theory of customer delight

Prof. A. Parasuraman

Pro-Chancellor, Vijaybhoomi University

Parasuraman, A., Ball, J., Aksoy, L., Keiningham, T. L., & Zaki, M. (2020). More than a feeling?
Toward a theory of customer delight. Journal of Service Management.


Purpose – Responding to an increasing call for a more comprehensive conceptualization of customer
delight, the purpose of this paper is to expand the theory of customer delight and to examine the
implications of such an expanded view for service theory and practice.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents the results of three qualitative studies. The
first study explores customer delight through self-reported consumption experiences in customerselected contexts, followed by one-on-one in-depth interviews. The second involves focus groups
and the third examines selfreported incidents of delightful customer experiences. Findings – This
research finds that customer delight goes beyond extreme satisfaction and joy and surprise to
include six properties that—individually or in combination—characterize customer delight. An
expanded conceptualization of how customer delight can be defined is proposed in which customer
delight is associated with various combinations of six properties – the customer experiencing
positive emotions, interacting with others, successful problem-solving, engaging customer’s senses,
timing of the events and sense of control that characterizes the customer’s encounter. Research
limitations/implications – It is clear from the findings of this research that there is no single property
that is associated with delight. Through the facilitation of multiple properties, managers have the
potential to create a multitude of routes to delight. It is recommended that future research (1)
identify and explicate these alternative routes for engendering delight using the six properties
identified, and (2) develop a general typology based on service context and characteristics, customer
segment, etc. that further stimulates scholarship on delight, and offers more industry-specific
insights for managers. Practical implications – Insights from this investigation will encourage
managers and service designers to think more broadly and creatively about delight. Doing so will
open up new opportunities for achieving customer delight, beyond merely focusing on extreme
satisfaction or surprise and joy strategies currently dominating discussions of customer delight.
Originality/value – This paper makes several contributions to the service literature. First, it extends
current conceptualizations of customer delight and offers an expanded definition. Next, it
demonstrates how this new understanding extends the existing literature on delight. Finally, it
proposes an agenda for future delight research and discusses managerial implications, opening up
new opportunities for firms to design delightful customer experiences.

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