Disappointment and Delight are the same thing

Two sides of the same coin

At first glance, delight and disappointment don’t seem to have anything to do with each other – other than starting with the same letter. But if we look a bit deeper, we can see that they’re really two sides of the same coin.

Tails (disappointment)

A few years ago, a popular meme pointed out that disappointment is really just expectation divided by reality. If you expect a lot, and you really end up with with less than that, you are bound to be disappointed.disappointment = expectation / reality

A lot of blogs (here or here, for example) grabbed onto this and focused on the idea that the best way to avoid disappointment is to reduce your expectations. You can give yourself and the people around you a break by “letting go”.

If you don’t expect your guests to show up exactly on time, you won’t be frustrated and disappointed when they show up a little late. If you expect that your startup isn’t going to be smooth sailing all the time, you’ll be better able to handle the ups and downs. I get that and I think that’s positive, but sometimes it becomes “settling for less” instead of being kind.

Heads (delight)

For running a business, while the self-help ideas are nice, the flip side of the coin is much more important.

reality / expectation = delight

These days customers expect quite a lot from their service providers. This is true in just about every industry.

But if you manage to exceed your customers’ expectations, they will be delighted. And if you can do this repeatedly and well you will create long-term, loyal customers who won’t switch to a competitor’s product just because it’s cheaper or offers one or two features you don’t provide.

Why is this? Because they know that you are consistently doing what it takes to go above and beyond.

Some examples

One company that seems to really know how to delight their users is Asana. I’m constantly finding new fun things when working in the platform. Like this Yeti that appeared when I was moving cards around in a board.

Asana Yeti

Another company that does this often is Southwest Airlines. They actually managed to turn the boring security announcement into a moment that their customers look forward to.

If you know of any other companies that do this well, please let us know. We’d love to highlight them.

As a side note, this is an interesting video I just came across which talks about the importance of actively choosing to be happy by not drowning in disappointment. In the same way, businesses have to actively choose to delight their customers by finding ways to exceed their expectations.

Is there a happiness algorithm?

“Happiness is not about what the world gives you – happiness is what you think about what the world gives you.”

This Google executive says he has the secret to happiness, a discovery he says was tested when his young son died suddenly on holiday.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Monday, April 10, 2017

2 thoughts on “Disappointment and Delight are the same thing

Leave a Reply