If you didn’t have products or services that customers need, you wouldn’t be in business. Successful businesses meet those needs, but doing so is a bare-bones minimum. Great companies go far beyond simply meeting customers’ needs by delivering great service at all customer touch points.
To be fair, if you’re selling bags of sugar or some other commodity, you’re probably safe to focus simply on meeting your customers’ expectations. All buying decisions, yes all of them, are emotional. Even sugar, for example, is purchased because of one’s love for baking sweet treats. There’s an emotional connection, both to the joy of baking and to seeing the smiles on the faces of those who enjoy the end result. Unless your sugar ruins my recipe, I’m buying, because it meets my expectations.
With premium products and professional services, however, solely meeting expectations is no ringing endorsement. Be honest. When is the last time you got excited about a product or service when you heard “yeah, it meets my expectations”? If you were honest, the answer is never.
I’m a Home Depot junkie, which means my workshop/basement is loaded with stuff that I’ve purchased, and that I’m planning to use at some point. From time to time (after 12 months of not using something) I’ll return it. You guessed it – Home Depot’s return process does not meet my expectations. It exceeds them. Their incredible no-questions-asked return policy is painless, stress-free, and every retail store could learn something from the model. In short, it blows away my expectations about product returns.
Find ways to surprise your customers with extraordinary service. Send a hand-written note, agree to a meeting before or after “normal” business hours, remember their birthday or children’s names, send information on Wednesday even though you have until Friday, accept a return after 12 months without question. If you don’t, someone will, and over time your customers may be lured away from your basic, vanilla, no frills, expectation-meeting experience.