Go the extra mile to exceed customer expectations…
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  • 11 Sep 2016

…or, at the very least, make sure you meet them!

A few Sunday evenings ago, I headed to my local supermarket to buy a few bits and pieces for the school lunches the next day. I love being a parent but making school lunches is part of it that I don’t enjoy. At all. I never seem to have the right stuff in the pantry and although I’d consider myself a pretty creative person, I’m buggered if I can come up with anything original to send the lad off to school with that’s both healthy and something that he’ll actually eat.

On this particular occasion, price wasn’t really important – it was all about convenience and getting it over and done with. Frustratingly, it wasn’t quite so straight forward, as although the supermarket didn’t shut for more than two hours, the deli was closed, some fruit and veges were packed away and most of the bread was sold!

Sure I could have been more organised and done my shopping earlier, but I honestly didn’t think there was any need. I know there are bigger problems but my point, and it’s relevant for all of us in business, is to make sure you can actually deliver to your customers (at the very least) what they’re expecting. The supermarket is open until 10pm – this was before 8pm. My expectation was that I could get these products at this time.

Sadly, this experience isn’t unique and is comparable to many in all sectors of business within New Zealand. Stories shared with friends and colleagues tell for similar tales from other retailers, to telcos, to insurance companies. Companies that externally promise one thing, but fail to deliver.

Large budgets spent on advertising campaigns could often be better spent (or at least backed up) by being channelled into making sure you have the team that can deliver the promise you communicate. Effective training to front-line sales and customer service staff that results in behaviours which improve the customer experience, pay for themselves in no time.

In this highly competitive world, understanding and meeting our customers’ needs is the bare minimum required. That gets you the possibility of repeat business down the track – unless someone else has a better deal at the time! The real nirvana is when we can exceed our customers’ expectations – not only do they come back habitually (often overlooking better prices elsewhere), but they often go a step further. As it seems to be so rare for customers to have their expectations exceeded, they commonly tell others of this strange experience they’ve had! So, not only do we get a happy and loyal customer, they’re also doing part of our job by spreading the word on how good we are – heaven!

It’s not actually that hard to get it right. Convince the reluctant shopper in me that the experience isn’t all that bad, you’ve got what I need, and it’s easy to do business with you. Make me want to come back the next Sunday night and the one after.

So, what about you? What are you promising your customers? And more importantly, do you have the right team to deliver on and even exceed those promises?