Play along if you will. . .
You go to a restaurant. You order a hamburger. You are given a hamburger. The hamburger is good. You leave.
Are you impressed? Are you brimming with joy, thinking “Wow. . .I got what I paid for!” ?
Of course not. So why are we surprised when we provide the same level of service and our customers are nonplussed?
There is something to be said for going above and beyond. Many criticize that it is unnecessary, and is not profitable. To that I ask, how much is a referral worth to you? Is it worth losing a few dollars on the previous job, to ensure the next one is right in line?
However, going above and beyond, doesn’t have to cost you anything. The other way to go above and beyond is to set the proper expectations, (I think I mentioned this in an Etiquette post on Follow Through as well). Commit to the necessary time needed to mage your client, and relate those stages to the customer accordingly. Then do the unexpected. Listen well at meetings, and provide help in unexpected ways.
I was at a meeting with a potential client yesterday where this happened. We were discussing a project and his needs. He mentioned a potential issue. Later he mentioned some long term goals about technology. He related his current goals and budget at the end and asked me for a quote.
Later that night, my listening paid off as my mind recalled the issue, long term goals, and short term budget (really the short term goals were just a budgetary restriction of the long term ones). The wheels were turning. A solution arose.
I was able to get back to the customer the next day, (I alluded to a needing a couple days with the client, and then did it early to surpass that) with 2 solutions instead of one. This showed him the budgetary restraint he thought existed, may not, as I could achieve the long term goals about 80% cheaper than would be anticipated and implement this in the short term, eliminating the need for planned future upgrades for some time.
Did the customer ask for this? Not really. We were just talking. I could have been a good order taker and handed him a quote for what he asked for, knowing later I had an opportunity to be rehired to update today’s work as well as install tomorrow’s upgrades. His expectation would have been met. And my chances of getting the work would still be 1 in 3 with price being a major factor.
Instead, I provided the unexpected. I proposed a long term solution for short term implementation, while still considering the budget. I provided it unsolicited and early. Now are my chances still 1 in 3 with price being the major factor? Most likely not. The impression made by providing the proposed solution, was that I listened, I can connect all the dots, that I care about the customer’s needs, not just the sale, and that I am a resource and not a commodity.
If your customers thought of you in that way, would it make a difference in your business?
So, as cliche as it sounds. . .
Go the extra mile.
Under promise and over deliver.
Treat others as you want to be treated.
A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.
A Mule and his Pony are soon parted (wait that’s not right or relevant, sorry!)
Exceed expectations and you create loyalty, which is a rare commodity in today’s marketplace, and one that will keep you in business for tomorrow’s.