Now’s the time to recognise and reward your customers with surprise and delight

A call out to all brands and businesses who have customers you care about.

Evolve your transactional relationship of revenue to an emotional connection of care.


The brutal reality is, many of us are feeling some sense of anxiousness, concern, frustration or all of these at the moment and your customers need a little bit of extra love.

One strategy is to recognise and reward your customers with surprise and delight.

Simple acts of appreciation.

Here’s why:

  1. The science proves our brains light up when we experience a pleasant stimulus. Research out of Emory University[1] shows the brain is stimulated by feelings generated when a moment of unexpected joy is experienced.
  2. From this moment of joy our memory is stimulated. The moment is remarkable. Seth Godin writes about this in his book Purple Cow - “Something remarkable is worth talking about. Worth noticing. New. Interesting. It’s a Purple Cow. Boring stuff is invisible. It’s a brown cow.” (Like the plain brown boxes that most deliveries arrive in!)
  3. We then tell others (the potential for more new customers) and a closer emotional connection to the brand is created.

However, the essence of this strategy is to execute without expectations. New customers are a bonus!

Here are few examples of acts of appreciation executed in different ways: have been delivering surprise and delight to their customers for some time which their owner Lauren Browne explained me as ”the last 5% of the transaction” and one they need to keep refreshing -

We put so much of our energy into the last 5% of the transaction – being the delivery (we call it “Mottolivery”). This last 5%, makes up 80% of the customers overall experience, so it’s incredibly important that it's attractive.

We have so many repeat customers, we need to change our approach often to keep them surprised, so our packaging process changes every few months.

What our packages look like today, is totally different to a few months ago, and it will change several more times this year.

Lauren Browne – Owner

Petbarn recently sent me a ‘gift for your furry friend’. It was not expected and it was a welcome saving.

I love this POD CO. coffee thank you email (Thanks Rajan Kumar for alerting me to this).

It’s a delight to read and brings a ‘smile to the mind’.

While the above examples show a variety of executions of ‘recognition and reward with surprise and delight’ another way to bring this to life is through a gifting strategy

This is based on what I call ‘planned spontaneity’.

This means you plan the strategy and budget for it. However, it is executed in a more random way or at the discretion of your team. 

A great case in point here:

Airbnb have integrated a ‘gifting strategy’ through a gifting platform &Open[1] across their global call centers empowering their Customer Service Agents to gift hosts and guests at different stages of their engagement with the brand.

The majority of the gifting is about saying thank you.

A simple act of appreciation and a very tangible way to show they really care.

Another example of how they provide these acts of appreciation with ‘planned spontaneity’ is through Airbnb’s OpenHomes initiative.

OpenHomes is an idea that is fundamentally about offering extra space for free to people in need of temporary housing.

When a host offers this act of generosity, Airbnb dispatch a token of their appreciation for the host’s altruism. 

For me the strategy of ‘recognise and reward with surprise and delight’ or however you wish to label it - random acts of kindness, acts of appreciation, thank you moments, ‘joyalty’, planned spontaneity - are all powerful in making people feel good, lift emotional connections to the brand and the cherry on the cake is they will talk!

Act now and it will be appreciated.