The Art of Exceeding Customer Expectations
The Art of Exceeding Customer Expectations
In today’s business environment, where customers can easily choose from so many businesses, there is one thing that stands out time and time again – your customer service. We often aim to meet the needs of our customers and make sure they are satisfied, but in a world where the experience matters, satisfaction is no longer enough.
A satisfied customer is simply happy enough with what you have offered and provided – but that is not deep enough to create the lasting connection that you need to keep a customer coming back time and time again. And that is why we all desire an experience that exceeds our own expectations, and once we are awestruck, then we’ll become a raving fan that cannot stop talking about the customer service we experienced.
The part that we love – for community organisations and for small businesses, this is an experience you can control, shape and deliver in outstanding ways because of the passion you have for what you do every single day!
Why is it so important?
(So, simply having awestruck customers hasn’t won you over?) When you ask businesses about how their customers find out about them, many businesses will jump straight to ‘word of mouth’, as though it is the magic way that seems to work when you haven’t really done enough in the marketing space. But we find time and time again, creating compelling customer service (with other factors of course!) you can influence and in fact accelerate everything that makes your business talk-worthy. We call these individuals ‘brand ambassadors’, as they are talking you up in the community and representing your business on your behalf – and they are incredibly valuable!
The other side of this is that these people who are raving about your business are likely to be extremely loyal. We see time and time again that businesses invest in getting new customers to come and experience what they offer – but then not as much attention is paid to keep them coming back. Once people have experienced that exceptional customer service you offer, as well as the quality you deliver through your business, it is often more about being top of mind so they keep coming back, and that is where your exceptional customer service comes into play.
The Tactics of Exceptional Customer Service
Great – you can see the benefit of exceptional customer service, but it is all about how do you do it?
While providing a simple ten-step plan that will benefit every single business would take away some of the uniqueness of what makes your business special, here are some tactics that we recommend to think about and weave into the service you offer in your own special way.
- Learn first.
Take the time to really know your customers, what they care about, their habits and what makes them smile. While you can read in a book (or on a blog) what you could do to change your business, it is important that you prioritise what your customers care about. While you don’t want to appear like a stalker, you do want to know so much so you can almost anticipate their needs – you send an email reminder just as they would be thinking about something, making the customer experience simple and easy, which is another reason whey they keep coming back.
- Empower your team.
If you have others working with you, it is critical that you empower them to be exceptional in what they do every single day. There is nothing worse than people talking about going to see your business, but only when a particular person is in there, because that means your business is not winning them over – it is just the person. Time and time again, I have found that an empowered staff culture allows every single person to find ways to exceed expectations, and even building it into the system that you operate with, you can make sure it happens in incredible ways. As an example, I know of larger businesses with customer call centres that allow a certain budget towards just helping out the customer, that allows that moment where someone talking on the phone can be supported with a simple decision that reflects their needs and concerns, rather than going through a lengthy process for approval. This means your customers are heard, they feel valued, and they see that your team are incredible!
- Names matter.
There is nothing more comforting than hearing your own name as part of the customer experience – you feel like you matter, that the business has seen you, and wants you to belong. You are no longer just a number to the business, you in fact matter as an individual. So wherever possible, find a way to learn the names of customers and keep them front of mind. For some businesses, simply keeping customer records that display the name when they come in helps – or when you collect your takeaway coffee, when they say have a great day to you by name (when they already wrote your name on the cup) just gives you a great feeling that is worth coming back to experience again.
- Seek feedback and act.
Sometimes in the busyness of working, we can miss the opportunity to seek feedback and learn from customers because we’re already onto what the next customer needs. Businesses that take the time to listen to customers, learn from their suggestions, and takes the time to reflect on what they have been doing and understand the pain points are ones that can keep driving incredible customer outcomes. With new technology, changing product offering and staff bringing new perspectives, taking the time to go over everything regularly is important to not miss pains your customers look over every single day.
- Celebrate your customers.
While businesses need customers to spend money to keep going, doing something a little extra to celebrate them is always appreciated. Where you can, find a way to celebrate your customers – acknowledge birthdays and special events if you have those details, provide handwritten notes to say thank you, or offer a small surprise that is offered to customers, not because you like them, but because they came in and purchased from you. Customers mean the world to your business, so let them feel like that.
And as a final tip to consider (and it might feel like it goes against everything else, but stick with this) but don’t simply just say that you will ‘exceed customer expectations’ or always ‘go above and beyond’ because it can be dangerous. Simply always trying to one-up the service you offered to the previous customer could see you get distracted from the core thing you do every single day, that you create unrealistic expectations that when a customer comes back could not be met, and that you could be caught out doing a favour for a customer while someone else standing beside them misses out.
What you want to do is create a customer service experience that is consistently amazing, where customers are blown away by what you do, but within the business, you deliver at that high standard every single day for every single customer. Build systems, processes and an empowered team that creates consistently strong experiences, so that when a new customer comes in from hearing about what someone else said, they realise why they couldn’t stop talking about what you do!
If you want to explore this further with our team, where we can align your needs with the right advisor who shares the knowledge, experience and skills that you need – just reach out to us below and let’s see how we can help!
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53 Elizabeth Street, Launceston Tasmania 7250