On May 10 the Los Angeles Times ran a front-page article about the most pervasive buzzword in the corporate world these days: “delight” and other forms of this word.
The article quoted Steve Jobs as the apparent originator of this word in a business context:
We love our users, we love them. We try to surprise and delight them…and we work our asses off.
I remember the first time I came across this word while I was leading business writing seminars—it was at least 10 years ago. I won’t embarrass the company because many employees there still get my tips. But this corporation was energetically promoting the idea of “customer delight” in its correspondence with people and other companies it dealt with.
Did I spew my coffee when I first saw this phrase? Indeed I did. To me it sounded like a specialty concocted by Baskin-Robbins:
Try our “Customer Delight!” Luscious scoops of any FIVE flavors of ice cream of your choosing! Swimming in your favorite sauce! Topped with a mountain of snowy whipped cream! Surmounted by generous sprinklings of nuts! And capped with a glistening red cherry! It’s our “Customer Delight” and we guarantee you will be DELIGHTED!
To me the word sounds forced, contrived and insincere. Yes, we all want our customers to be happy, satisfied, gratified, and pleased. Doesn’t one of those words do the trick?