How Unexpected Surprises Create Insane Customer Loyalty

Who doesn't love a surprise? Find out how to delight your customers by going above and beyond and giving gifts out of the blue.
Founder, Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, LLC
February 06, 2014

Everyone loves a good surprise. That’s what wrapping paper is all about: unveiling the unknown and fully appreciating the unexpected.

If you want to create an insane level of customer loyalty, simply tap into the power of surprise. Make unexpected surprises a routine part of how you serve your customers, and they'll spread the love by sharing the fact that you did something that exceeded their expectations.

One of the reasons this simple tactic is so potent is that so few people actually meet expectations, let alone exceed them.

A Surprising Strategy

Here’s one of my favorite techniques. When a customer orders a product or engages your services, toss in something extra. You don’t need to make a big deal out of it, but do it systematically and don’t advertise it. This is one of the easiest ways to over deliver on expectations.

Need some examples? Try these on for size:

  • When customers ask you to prepare their taxes, give them a handy record-keeping system toolkit.
  • When customers order your e-book, send them a copy of your favorite current bestseller from Amazon.
  • When customers hire you to design a website, create an email template of the same design and send it to them.
  • When customers hire you to remodel their kitchen, get their windows cleaned when the job is finished.
  • When customers hire you to install a ceiling fan, change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

It’s good practice to make it a surprise (and maybe even wrap it like a present), so they understand it's over and above what was expected or paid for.

Exceeding Expectations

You can also exceed your customers' expectations by doing something faster than they expected. Zappos has a well-documented policy of shipping a certain number of orders overnight, even when two- and three-day shipping is what’s expected. When customers think they'll be receiving their new shoes sometime next week and the package shows up the next afternoon, they often turn to Facebook and Twitter and rave about Zappos.

Making it a habit to go over and above in exceptional cases is another proven way to build extreme customer loyalty. One of my blog readers, Whitney Bishop, shared a story with me about her local hometown bank in Louisville, Kentucky:

“Reviewing my account one morning before heading out the door, I noticed two charges that I hadn't made to questionable sources. I called the bank and let them know about it. They immediately put the money back into my account. They cancelled my existing debit card. They issued me another one and told me to come in to fill out the paperwork for the dispute and to pick up my new card.  

"I was really busy that day, and they said, no problem, we'll do it right now and be ready when you get here in 10 minutes. I went in, signed the paperwork, got my new card and thanked them. As I was leaving I looked at the clock in my car and it read '8:34 a.m.'  At that moment, I realized they don't open til 9 a.m. and I NEVER heard that once from anyone. They took care of business and didn't worry me with the fact that they weren't open.”

It’s amazing how much impact you can have on your customers when you exceed their expectations.

When you provide unexpected gifts to your clients, you create an excellent opportunity to communicate that you appreciate them for more than a single order. Your kind gesture often leads to purchases of future products and services as well as positive word of mouth, sharing and referrals.

Start today by doing it on your next order or by doing it randomly. Just do it.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

Read more articles on customer service.

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Founder, Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, LLC