No matter your industry, experience or size, every entrepreneur and every business has customers to serve. And these people want satisfying customer service experiences. Making and keeping clients happy can be a tall order, especially in industries that are crowded, where we must compete to earn business.
You might think it's impossible to overdeliver in certain industries, but I think if you put your mind to it, it can be done. One of my favorite ways to make my clients happy to give me their business is by delivering more than I promise. I set expectations, and then I exceed them, looking like a rockstar in the process. Happy clients = happy business owner! But how do I get there?
1. Establish the expectations that you plan to exceed.
When I decide I'm going to knock it out of the park, part of the process is making sure my client understands and acknowledges what I'm promising.
Whether you plan to deliver a project by a certain date (and then complete it early) or for a certain price (and then charge less), the trick is to establish the expectations that you plan to exceed. If you're vague about the timing or the price, then you might miss the opportunity to shine.
2. Make your promise reasonable.
You can't tell a customer that you estimate the price of their new car will be $10 million and then deliver it for $20,000. No one's going to believe it. Your promise should be within the range of reason.
Typically, when I'm planning to come in under budget, I work up my price, add about 10 percent on top and give that figure to my client. Then when I finish the project or deliver the product, I knock off the 10 percent, and the client feels like they've gotten a deal.
Bonus: If my expenses are higher than expected and I end up 10 percent over budget, then my customer isn't unpleasantly surprised.
3. Use over-delivery as a customer service tool every once in awhile.
If you always over-deliver with every single transaction, then your performance becomes expected. If you always tell customers their job will take one week, and you always deliver it in three days, then your customers may expect three-day turnaround. One week may start to feel outrageously long to them, and they may become disappointed with your performance.
I've found it's better to over-deliver intermittently so my customers don't expect it. Remember, you're going for the wow factor when you over-deliver. If you do it every day, the wow factor fades.
4. Make your customers feel special.
If you're going the extra mile for a client, you want them to appreciate it, to realize the effort you're putting in for them.
I always mention that my decision to go above and beyond is my way of showing appreciation for their business. People love pleasant surprises, and they can start to associate that feeling with your company. Warm fuzzies may sound like grade school stuff, but providing them can help you earn lifelong clients.
5. Over-deliver to your customers when it counts most.
Just like the restaurant owner who sends over a special dessert on the house for an anniversary celebration, finding ways to exceed expectations when it matters most to your clients can impress them.
I try to assess my customers' moods and needs. For example, when I encounter a client who's having a bad day, I go out of my way to brighten their spirits. Taking a little extra time and care to cater to a customer's unique needs can help cement your reputation as the person who'll go above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service.
6. Make offering this type of customer service a personal challenge.
One of my favorite strategies is to use over-delivery as an opportunity to stretch my abilities. I set personal goals and build them into my efforts to wow clients.
Say I want to come in under budget. Maybe I won't add 10 percent to my price, knowing I'm going to discount when I deliver. Maybe I challenge myself to find ways to cut my costs to be able to afford the 10 percent discount anyway. Or maybe I commit to delivering work quicker, finding ways to be more efficient and productive. When you experiment with ways to deliver better customer service, you may find ways to improve your company. It can help you push yourself to be a little bit better each day.
One of my favorite consequences of under-promising and over-delivering is the sheer delight my clients experience. I think people are so used to being disappointed. The sandwich never looks as good in person as it does in the advertisement. The package you're waiting for arrives after your kid's birthday. When we find something that goes better than expected, we're typically relieved and excited, and we may become loyal to the people who made it happen. I love putting that principle to work in my businesses.
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