Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Ponder, Nicole

Committee Member

Taylor, D. Ronald

Committee Member

Hopkins, D. Christopher

Committee Member

Collier, E. Joel

Committee Member

Capella, Lou

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Giesen, Martin

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Business


Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law


Deciding on the appropriate level of customer service remains an important area of research. In the current service environment where competition is ubiquitous, the importance of identifying and retaining key customers is of paramount importance. As such, the concept of customer delight, which refers to a profoundly positive emotional state experienced by the customer, has developed. Unfortunately, much remains unknown regarding customer delight. In response to this dearth of research, the current study focuses on delight from multiple perspectives utilizing multiple methods. Thus, this dissertation adds to the emerging knowledge base of customer delight in three areas: first, assessing what delight represents to the employee; second, investigating its impact on the employee; and third, examining what delight represents to the customer. To gain this knowledge, three separate essays were written. A summary of each is below. In Essay 1 (Chapter 2), the goal was to gain an appreciation of delight from the employee’s viewpoint. Through the use of a qualitative technique where critical incidents were content analyzed, several themes emerged. First, employees evaluate delight differently then customers. Second, employees experience elevated affective states after providing delight. Finally, employees seem to exhibit customer-oriented behaviors after a delightful encounter. With these key themes in mind, Essay 2 (Chapter 3) utilized structural equation modeling, which is a quantitative method that helps investigate relationships among variables. Findings indicated that employees did in fact experience elevated levels of affect, as well as commitment, satisfaction, and customer-oriented behaviors. After investigating the effects of delight on the employee, it was necessary to evaluate what exactly delights the customer. Utilizing the aforementioned qualitative method, Essay 3 (Chapter 4) provides several themes regarding the customer perspective: first, there are both cognitive and affective routes to delight; second, both the disconfirmation paradigm and the needs-based model are appropriate for understanding delight; and third, employee affect and effort are key drivers of delight. Taken together, the findings provide a more complete understanding of the focal construct, as well, as articulating specific behaviors that lead to perceptions of delight. Finally, this dissertation evaluates the important employee outcomes that result from providing delight.