“Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than what they expect from you.” ~ Nelson Boswell
We all like to get more than we expected. Remember that time when you were a little kid eating those Cracker Jacks and there was an extra prize inside? Remember that awesome feeling as you noticed it and endorphins raced through your brain filling you with elation, all over a 2 cent trinket? Or at the Chinese Restaurant when your fortune cookie held an extra fortune? You got excited over a piece of paper! Or perhaps you remember that time when you pulled in to Discount Tire to get that flat tire repaired only to find the work was done free of charge? Do you remember how great it felt that first time you checked into a hotel and the person behind the counter offered you a warm cookie? You didn’t even know you wanted a cookie until she offered it to you!
The human brain craves the excitement of surprise. The nucleus accumbens (aka pleasure center) of the brain kicks into overdrive when we are pleasantly surprised yet remains virtually unchanged when something is expected. Think about being in school. If you took a 10 question test and you had your doubts about question #4, you were neither excited nor disappointed when you got a 90 on the test. But if you were certain you missed question #4, but then found you were right and received a 100, you were excited. The same science that applies to our brains when we receive these unexpected treats can and should also be applied to customers.
People tend to think as long as the customer’s needs are met in a friendly fashion they are giving outstanding customer service. The reality is those things are the basic expectations of customers. Meeting their needs in a friendly fashion is what they expect from you. Outstanding customer service, the kind of service that turns customers into advocates for your business, goes above and beyond expectations.
I’d like to relate a story that happened to me just last week in Mansfield, TX outside of Arlington. At the hotel where I was staying, I finished a store visit and had to return some calls and emails that needed to be done during business hours so I returned to my hotel. After I wrapped things up, I headed out for dinner. At the front desk, I asked the clerk, Amber, for her recommendations for something light. She recommended the salads and soups at The Cotton Patch, just down the road. She also said the bread pudding was extraordinary. I didn’t want anything that heavy but the salads sounded good.
At the Cotton patch, Mike took my order for a Caesar salad with grilled salmon. During our conversation I mentioned that Amber from the Fairfield had recommended them and that the bread pudding was to die for. Mike brought my dinner and the salmon was wonderful, some of the best I’ve had in a long time. Mike asked if I saved room for dessert and I declined but said, “Next time I’m in, I’ll try the bread pudding”. I paid and Mike was gone with my credit card for quite some time. When he did return, he brought with him 2 to-go orders of bread pudding, one for me and one for Amber. He said, “Just in case you get hungry later and please give the other one to Amber.”
Of course, Amber was thrilled with the gesture and will no doubt recommend others try The Cotton Patch. That is what I call going above and beyond customer expectations. That is how you turn loyal customers into advocates for your business.
Please tell me about a time when someone went above and beyond to give you an incredible customer service experience and how you can use that experience to improve your own customer service.
- Educate All Your Employees to be Brand Ambassadors (themarlincompany.com)