The “DELIGHT” – FUL path to a great HR technology solution provider business and reputation.


Almost two years ago I came across an article in the NY Magazine – Intelligencer column – titled “DELIGHT” – WHAT SILICON VALLEY’S FAVORITE WORD SAYS ABOUT TECH PRIORITIES”. It stuck with me as I was looking to write about HR technology vendor behaviors as potential differentiators. The column was of interest because it involved semantics, marketing and organizational behavior concerns.

The columnist Kevin Roose (on August 10 2014) presented his case for the importance of, and proliferation of the use of the word “delight” – especially from an entrepreneurs point of view (and verbiage), as it self describes any number of efforts to win over new customers.

In his report, Mr Roose, goes on to say:

“Sit in any high-end coffee shop in San Francisco and you’ll see start-up founders pitching their delightful wares. “Delight” and “delightful” have become all-purpose marketing words in the tech world, trotted out to describe anything even marginally surprising or well made, in the hopes that even uttering the word will loosen the purse strings of investors and customers.”

The use of the word “delight” has been pervasive in all industries. Especially used by those trying to describe their approach in business development, marketing and their overall approach in making a significant inroad in penetrating any clients thought process leading to a positive action. That action can be the adaption of a new product, a new software capability, a new business relationship/partnership, indeed, any new anything at all.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has called Twitter ads “a delightful experience.” Sheryl Sandberg has vowed to show Facebook users “something … that really delights you.” Apple a while ago) employed a new corporate motto: “Simplify, perfect, delight.”

From the sound of it, you’d think these were executives at Mattel’s toy factory, not mobile developers or software developers in Mountain View, California. When did the titans of technology start talking like kindergarten teachers?

Even the old-line economy has gotten in on the action—when Frito-Lay introduced a new line of Cracker Jack in April of 2014, its press release promised “new flavors that will continue to delight our consumers.”

The heaviest use of “delight” seems to be concentrated within the consumer start-up world, among those who believe that good design can help them stand out from the competition.

“The world is pretty bored with being able to accomplish tasks efficiently,” Rishi Mandal, the co-founder of urban-discovery app Sosh, (as he told Mr. Roose).

So what does this discussion have to do with HR technology? Well I am trying to make the point that in the selling of any kind of HR technology the secret is in the ability to ‘engineer a smile’ in other words, to “delight” the prospect. As we should all grasp, a delighted prospect most likely becomes a customer and hopefully one that remains delighted. If not, there are a whole new set of problems to deal with – (a topic for another blog).

To this writer, as an HR technologist – industry observer – it makes me wonder how to, in a meaningful way, emphasize the need for any vendor to embrace the concept of “DELIGHT”ing a prospect/client – aka the “customer” with the objective of a building a mutually rewarding (and profitable!) relationship. One that deepens and lasts many years. To do so requires a good many conscious and effective actions that depend on thoughtful marketing, use of media, and salesmanship all aimed at building trust and even building a sense of “humanized” partnership.

In effect I am seeking the answer to “how do you accomplish the necessary tasks involved with turning an interested organization into a solid and reference-able client/customer at the same time as always striving to “delight” them?. This is not typically easy when trying to sell a software application such as HRM – as opposed to a really “cool” gadget or app. Creating “smiles” is an important and achievable goal, and it does require mindfulness at many levels within the HR Tech vendor organization.

Could the dissection of the word delight make a buzzword meaningful? Lets try to see if it could.

Buzzwords inevitably stray from their original meaning, and even techies who traffic in “delight” will admit that the word has gotten diluted. The word can feel trendy and overused, and can certainly get an eye-roll. But the concept is ever strong and a proven methodology to win over new business and clients.

So allow me to introduce the word DELIGHT and take it apart letter-by-letter using my own definitions for each letter, thus expanding the underlying concepts and power of doing things that “Delight”. In effect I am suggesting that keeping in mind the need to DELIGHT – will hopefully ensure that you have “On boarded” a prospect, thus making them a paying client. By doing the activities embedded in the move to “delight” you will keep them engaged with your company for years and years, in a mutually collaborative and enriching relationship – in all sense of the word.

Yes, admittedly simple concepts and actions presented and keyed to the seven letters… “D-E-L-I-G-H and T.”


All prospect facing activities done by the HRMS provider’s personnel must have a strong desire and visible outcome in support of building a ‘RELATIONSHIP” with the prospect organization. This can include just about anything that shows them good, fair and reasonable business practices that match up with the prospects culture and ideology.


Educate your sales support team or implementation support team in those issues that your client/prospect have identified as being the most important to THEM. Whatever are the existing inefficiencies, work arounds, poorly realized work flows, things causing the most points of pain, etc that are considered by them (not you) are items that cannot be lost sight of. Your staff should have enough expertise to analyze those issues. NOT in terms of the delivered and obvious functionality you deliver out of the box, but more in terms of how your prospect/client might USE your solutions specifically to make things “unbroken”. Prepare these ideas in advance and be ready to demonstrate them. This activitiy alone should generate a delightful experience and a few smiles while at the same time building their confidence and trust in your staff and in their the ability to use your offering as a viable solution.


Listen closely to your prospect/client. That is what meetings are for. Fact finding, uncovering issues, batting things around, give and take, face to face, eye to eye, in open discussion, your experts and theirs (invited SME’s) together testing your solution and seeking methods to utilize your functionality to their betterment. But importantly, showing them that you really care about their issues.


Always seek to show the prospect how your support (not just your system or its functions) can help to improve their situation and eliminate some points of pain. This can include personal and active interventions on the part of anyone (at any level) of your organization reaching out to help solve a problem at your prospect/client. Even one that is not resultant from anything you might have done. For example, making a good faith gesture to remedy a specific and ineffective process or calc which originated from the incumbent software provider as a stop gap measure (until “go live” with your product) – perhaps?

G = GRASP or Glorify:

Grasp, then Glorify the achievements of all concerned. Implementing HR Technology, dealing with change of workflow, policies, and identifying new methodologies and tying all together for employee adaption and engagement is no small matter. As the HR Technology provider, recognize and congratulate the efforts of your client’s team – and of course share that with your sales support and /or implementation team(s).


Humanize yourself, your team and your company. Strive to connect with the people across the table from you. Add some human qualities – your attentiveness, your demeanor, your sense of humor. Share some personal interests with your prospect/client. Take a moment to chat about non-work related topics. (except politics and religion, of course). Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Use break times to learn about the people in the room. Get to know a little bit about their backgrounds. Share yours. Repeat their names – often. Simple things, little things, nice things – will carry the feelings of a true connection, maybe even a common spirit and a common goal such as providing corporate-wide efficiencies, metrics etc. This will make everyone gain welcomed and appreciated exposure. There is no downside to mindfully doing any of this. It will be reciprocated and your business relationship will be enhanced.


Lastly and fittingly – all the above 6 letter concepts must and will build a sense of, or a feeling of TRUST between you, the HR technology solution provider and your prospect and eventual client. This “on-boarding” and ongoing “engagement” process during all phases of the sales and contract negotiations and then the implementation and support timeframe cannot help but build a climate of mutual trust between your company and your prospect (turned client). A relationship that is viewed and voiced with “delight” and which can provide dividends for many years.

How DELIGHTFUL is that??!!


Marc Miller

June 15, 2016