Stop Satisfying Your Customers:
Go Beyond Their Expectations
By Laurie Brown
Recently, Francine went to her favorite restaurant, Pesca, on the
beautiful river walk in San Antonio. The staff was warm and
friendly, and the food was amazing. While she was waiting for her
meal the manager walked up and started a conversation with her.
Francine told him how much she loved his restaurant, and that after
her last meal at Pesca, she went home and tried (unsuccessfully) to
recreate it for her husband. The manager then asked her for her
email address. To her surprise and delight, he offered to send the
recipe. Though she hadn’t asked him for it, he knew she would love
to have it.
manger wanted to provide those extras that would truly delight his
customers. His approach was to simply talk to customers and listen
for opportunities to meet or exceed their needs. He listens
carefully for the clues that his customers give him. He admitted
that he can’t always find the right “thing” that would “surprise and
delight,” but that it worked a lot of the time.
when companies simply needed to meet customers’ needs to
succeed in business are over. Customers are more and more demanding,
and the merely satisfied customer is not necessarily going to be a
loyal customer. Service needs to be taken to a higher level, beyond
just satisfying customers. Their expectations need to be
exceeded. Studies have shown that when a company does that, they are
far more likely to create loyal customers.
will get a customer to remain loyal? Better yet, what will turn a
loyal customer into your best source of advertising ‑- someone
who’ll tell their friends and family about your products and
services? Simply put, you need to surprise and delight them. The
following steps will help you:
Satisfy your customers: Before you even begin to try to surprise
and delight, you need to make sure that you are doing a great job of
satisfying your customers. Too often people rush into doing all the
extras before they do the basics. Make sure that you keep your
promises and provide good basic service. How can you be sure that
you are doing what you need to do to simply satisfy your customer?
You need to ask them. Survey your customers to see if you are
providing the kind of service that your customers expect. Surveys
can be simple to create. Make sure that you make it easy for your
customers to answer. Four or five questions will suffice. Also leave
room for comments. Often times, customers may need to tell you
things that you forgot to ask. If you get a negative comment make
sure that you follow-up with the customer and fix the problem.
out what your competitors do: Learn everything you can about
your competition. Find out what they do for their customers. It is
perfectly acceptable to use them as a benchmark.
out what your customers want: Once you are sure that you are
meeting your customer’s needs, you can begin to learn more about
your customers. You and your employees are in the best position to
learn about your customers. Every time you get a chance, engage your
customer in a discussion about what they want and need. If you
discover something that you can do right away, do it. If you are not
empowered to do what should be done, seek out a manager or owner and
see if they will help you go the extra mile.
it your mission to surprise and delight: When asked, the people
who provide the best customer service say that it’s their personal
mission to provide great service to each and every customer. If you
decide that your mission is to surprise and delight each and every
customer rather than “make a sale” or “reach your quota,” you will
have a much higher success rate. Write out your mission statement
and review it daily to remind yourself how important exceptional
customer service is to you.
it personal: Although you can and should have some customer
service processes and procedures for all of your customers (i.e.,
provide a warm greeting, listen well, etc.), in order to really
provide exceptional customer service you need to make it unique to
the customer. This means that you need to listen carefully to the
clues your customers give you. You then need to find creative ways
to give them something they may not have expected. Always listen to
your customer’s tone of voice and watch their body language to make
sure you are properly gauging their reaction.
hear the words “surprise and delight,” is the first thing you think,
“Okay, what’s it going to cost me?” Do you assume that the only way
to “surprise and delight” is to spend, spend, spend?
the good news: Some of the most effective ways to “surprise and
delight” your customers will cost you little or nothing. All you
need is just the right intent and a bit of creativity. Start by
thinking about the small things you can do on a regular basis. You
might consider how you could add a personal touch to your business
transactions. Here are some low-cost ways to “surprise and delight”
Thank your customer for their business by
handwriting a note on your invoice or sending a personal thank
you. With the advent of e-mails, a handwritten personal note has
an amazing impact.
Follow up with a phone call to see if your customer is
still happy. When you call them, ask about their family or something
else personal that you may have learned about them.
E-mail your customer information about something you
and he or she spoke about.
Contact the customer on their birthday with a phone
Be warm, welcoming and excited to provide service.
Your exuberance will be contagious.
Have a great customer service recovery process. And
make sure that you don’t quit solving your customer’s problem until
they are fully satisfied.
clear that the more you know about your customer the more personal
the service you can provide. It’s this personal touch that really
will make the difference. Start engaging your customers, learn what
will “surprise and delight” them -- and then do it!
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