It’s simply not enough these days to be status quo. Especially if you provide a product that can be bought elsewhere or a service/need that can be done by someone else. If you specialize in cutting hair for Irish Setters, you’re a unique business that can afford a little ‘average-ness’ at times. However, if you sell dog leashes that I can find in any store or online – you need to continually ‘WOW’ me to keep you at the top of mind.
The art of ‘WOWing Your Customers’ doesn’t take as much effort as you’d think. A few years back at a small business conference, I listened to Peter Shankman talk about creating customer loyalty when he said something that caught the ear of everyone in the room. “Want to know the secret to keeping your customers happy?” <dramatic pause> “Be one level above ‘suck.'” While Shankman continued talking, I kept jotting notes, but I kept circling back to his big opening statement. If all I need to do to be ‘good enough’ is not suck – being great can’t be that far off.
In 2014, I launched a camp registration website for the high school that I coaches boys soccer, Olentangy Liberty High School. The website did (and does) make the lives of coaches, parents and administrators far easier by putting all of the camp registration information in one place and streamlines communication. The first year we launched the site, since it was something new for everyone and I wanted to ensure the check-in process was as smooth as possible for the coaches & parents, I volunteered to sit at check-in for every single camp on the first day. For the first few weeks of that summer, I drove across town to be at the high school early in the morning, often running from gym to gym, out to the training grounds or over to the stadium to help teams check-in. I didn’t have to go the extra mile. I could have just sat at my desk and fielded phone calls from anyone who had an issue. But since I had a vested interest with my client to help them succeed in this new venture, I wanted to be on-hand to make sure things went as planned.
Nearly all of my business is built on referrals. So when my clients refer me to their network or friends, I’m very grateful. In the same vein, I want to make sure my friends/family/network know about the awesome businesses and organizations I work with. If someone in the Dayton/Springfield area is looking for the best flowers & plants – I send them to Meadow View Growers. If someone in Ohio is looking for the best ice cream – I’m of course sending them to Young’s Dairy. I’m lucky to have clients all over the country and of all different sectors, so if I can refer someone to one of my clients, I’m going to do it.
It is so easy to send a handwritten thank you note when a client sends you a referral or does something kind for you. It shows that you care and took a little more time than a quick email or text to show them how much it’s appreciated. Also easy? Taking the time to follow your clients on social media and set up Google Alerts to keep track of what they’re doing and getting acknowledged for. If they are receiving some sort of award – send them a congratulations card. Your clients will appreciate that you’re out there rooting them on to succeed.
Sometimes being awesome takes work. But your client didn’t hire you to just ‘get the job done.’ They hired you because they thought you’d do a better job than the other team, so do it. And do it consistently.
It’s easy to set the bar low and exceed expectations. And lots of businesses do this. But going the extra mile takes a little bit of effort. I promise you’ll get rewarded more often than not for putting in the extra time to be awesome, not just good. If you’re good at what you do and people appreciate what you do for them on a consistent basis – you’re ahead of the pack. Think of the companies you regularly do business with. Odds are, they disappoint from time to time. Obviously, far less disappointing experiences than good ones, or you wouldn’t still be going back to them. If this ‘sometimes disappointing, but overall good company’ is doing enough to keep you around – imagine how loyal you’d be to them if they went the extra mile on the times they did impress you. You’d not only overlook the times they didn’t impress – but you’d likely not even notice them. Your rose colored glasses would be on full glow, all the time.