By Doug Sandler, “Nice Guys Finish First”:
From the moment our customers initiate communication with us, or when we reach out to them, we have within our power, an opportunity to create a wonderful experience. Regardless of the position, we hold within our organization, understanding our customer’s expectations is essential for creating amazing, long lasting, pleasant experiences and lifelong relationships.
Although it may seem obvious, having a positive attitude, being polite, and maintaining a courteous disposition are key, but what may not be as clear, is exactly what our customers expect from us. If we understand what customers expect from us, we can work hard at exceeding their expectations, every single time. Here is a list of 9 actions that will help you go beyond expectations.
“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” — Zig Ziglar
Being satisfied is for Snickers lovers. Your customer wants to be WOWed, not just satisfied. Zig Ziglar said, “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” Anyone can answer questions and be nice, but go the extra mile for your customer and wow them, and they will stay with you forever.
Your customer wants action now. No one likes to wait. Think about the last time you walked into a crowded place of business only to be told you would have to wait 30-60 minutes before someone would be able to help you, or worse, no one said anything to you at all. Recreate the scene, except this time, although crowded, you are immediately greeted, your needs are assessed and you are given a short-term solution quickly, in spite of the crowd. Work hard at working fast to acknowledge a customer who is waiting. If there is no option but to keep your customer waiting, keep him updated and informed as to when you will be able to help him.
“Doing business with our customers is not about us, it’s about them. ”
3. If you’ve had a bad day, your customer doesn’t care, nor should they know. Leave behind any issues and problems you have before reporting to work. We’ve all had bad mood days, bad hair days, bad attitude days and sick days, and although we would hope anyone we talk to would be sympathetic, doing business with our customers is not about us, it’s about them.
4. Thinking about putting your customer on hold or in voicemail? Think again. Dealing with phone automation, being considered a 16-digit number, and not being able to reach a live person, is the cause of many customer service nightmares. If there is any possibility of handling a customer issue or providing a non-automated phone system alternative, your customer will be very happy. Customers like options, so providing choices for dealing with the busy times might be a great fix. Social media, live chat, scheduled call-back, smoke signals and any other options for speedy communication will enhance your chance of exceeding expectations.
“Even without a cape, you can be a superhero.”
5. Your customer wants you to be empowered to fix their problem. They don’t care what your position is if you can resolve their problem and problem solvers can hold any position within an organization. Unfortunately, I have seen many company leaders pass the buck to a staffer or department manager instead of tackling the problem head on. Don’t pass the buck, be the hero and solve the problem. Problem solvers work hard to exceed customer expectations. I recently wrote a marketing piece that included the following quote, “Even without a cape, you can be a superhero.” Be the hero and fix your customer’s problem.
6. We all strive to be unique and your customer wants to feel special too. Although you have heard the same questions before it is key that you understand your customer’s perspective. In order to come up with solutions to issues your customer has, you must first understand what motivates your customer. Be empathetic to their needs, ask questions and get to know your customer. Getting personal, developing a relationship, and making your customer feel unique and special will help you exceed their expectations.
7. Each customer wants to take top priority. Although you have many other clients, issues to deal with and other work on top of your priority list as well, each customer should be given all of your focus when you are working with them. Distractions such as phone calls, text messaging and other interruptions should be put aside for now. If you want to exceed your customer’s expectations, you need to be more than just present when dealing with them. You need to be enthusiastic, engaged and involved. I would add, genuinely communicating to your customer that their situation takes top priority, will help you exceed their expectations as well. Don’t just say it, mean it.
“Your goal is to create an experience for your customer that they would consider second to none.”
8. Policies and procedures are meant for textbooks and manuals. Your customer doesn’t care if you have to break every rule in the book to solve their problems, they just want their problem solved. You should have a clear understanding of what your limits are regarding “outside the box” thinking within your organization. More progressive organizations rely upon frontline employees to help create new policies based on the needs of their customers. If you see a rule or procedure that makes it difficult to do business with a customer, go to bat for your customer to make a change.
9. Selling is different than advising. Ultimately, you are in the best position with a customer if they see you as an expert in your field. My father used to call this type of advisory role as the “out of town expert with a briefcase.” If you exceed your customer’s expectations enough times you will build trust, loyalty and a relationship worthy of taking on the role of trusted advisor.
Overall, your goal is to create an experience for your customer that they would consider second to none. Put you and your company in a position to win, while building better relationships and exceeding your customer’s expectations. Once accomplished, you have established some amazing habits, with top notch results and everyone, especially the customer, wins big, and that’s a great feeling.
Please take a moment and check out my articles on Huffington Post as well. Thanks so much for all of your support.