Customer loveEveryone talks about ‘exceeding expectations’; in fact, this phrase has become so over-used that it’s almost lost its meaning.

Getting something wrong in your customer relationship can have long lasting consequences – and people do talk when they’ve had a bad experience so news of your error travels quickly!  However, delivering good service rarely gets noticed – why?

People DO have expectations and they expect good service so giving good service isn’t ‘exceeding expectations’, it’s just meeting them.  Don’t expect people to rave about you for doing what you promised and what they expected anyway.  So how do you get people to get excited about what you do – beyond appreciating that you keep your promises and deliver good quality products or services on time?

It’s called adding value.  The cliche is ‘going the extra mile’ and many business people do this anyway when their clients need something in a hurry or there’s an emergency, but that doesn’t happen very often so opportunities may be few.  The secret of delivering knock-out service worthy of people raving about is to find little things that are unexpected.  It really is as simple as that – exceeding expectations is doing something that people are NOT expecting.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or time consuming small things make a big difference.  Here are some random ideas – but you’ll almost certainly be able to come up with your own unique strategies with a bit of thought:

When was the last time someone sent you a card in the post saying ‘thank you for being a great customer’ or ‘thanks for your time at our meeting’?  Does that cost much?  Is it something people expect their suppliers to do?  Sadly, no – and the ones that do really stand out from the crowd.

If you find a really great video clip or blog that is either relevant to the client’s business or you know they will appreciate, send them the link with a comment.  Many years ago the Post Office ran an advertising campaign based on the phrase ‘I saw this and thought of you’.  It’s very powerful to receive something that says someone is thinking of you and wants to help you in some way.

Offer to buy coffee for a few of your best clients and introduce them to each other – choose the clients who you think will be of most use to each other and let them talk to each other, no sales pitches or hidden agendas!

Invite a local business speaker or industry expert to talk to a group of your clients and run a seminar just for them, by invitation only.  You could ask them if they’d like to bring one of their contacts along too – and invest in lunch, breakfast or, at the very least yummy homemade cakes as part of the deal.

Client giftsChoose unusual gifts – not the usual promotional mugs, coasters, keyrings, etc – but something unique.  An artist friend of mine creates original artworks in postcard size for a nominal amount and I love these because every one is unique.  I’ve sent a mini-office along with a compact plastic box containing a small stapler, a handful of paperclips, a few small bulldog clips, a roll of sellotape, a little highlighter, a sticky roller (to turn paper into post it notes) and a square of bubble wrap labelled ‘stress-buster’.  People keep them in their cars, in their home offices and training or exhibition kits.  Both these gifts cost a tenner (£10) or less.

Drop by with some homemade cookies or cakes and offer them around the staff at your client’s office or business premises (author of How to get new business in 90 days and keep it forever, Wendy Evans, used to take a huge box of chocolates around her clients.

Be creative, fit the activity or gift to the client.

The biggest challenge is to keep surprising your clients – if you keep giving more, people start expecting more so sometimes it can be tough to come up with ways to deliver the unexpected.  The benefits of making the effort are huge – clients rave about you and recommend you to all their connections, simply because they love what you do.