Want your business to thrive? Focus on providing exceptional customer service. Businesses that focus on their customers are 60% more profitable than those that don’t.
Doesn’t that sound worthwhile?
Wouldn’t you love to have customers raving about your business? And all you have to do is deliver mind-blowing, above and beyond, tremendous, giddy-with-goodness service.
And the best part?
It’s not hard to do. And it feels great when you master it. You’ll glow with pride and give your customers those warm fuzzy feelings that convert them to madly loyal brand ambassadors.
Here are the top tips for going above and beyond in your customer service offering.
Exceptional Customer Service Sets You Apart
It’s more important than ever before to offer exceptional service.
Consumers have come to expect the best, but it’s no longer enough to be the leader in your industry.
Amanda Hicks of KPMG Australia says:
“Consumers are no longer looking at a brand’s competitors to set their expectations of customer experience. Instead, they are looking across sectors and wanting the best experience they receive in any one sector to be matched by all the other sectors.
We are bombarded by brands every day. What sets yours apart? How does a small business compete?
What is it that makes you special in the eyes of your customers?
It’s not about lowest pricing – that’s just a race to the bottom. And it’s not about product differentiation.
What makes you special to your customers is how you make them feel.
Building Rapport With Customers
You can’t offer exceptional customer service without getting to know your customers a little.
Ok, so let’s assume you know their name. You know what they usually buy.
That’s important. It’s a show of good customer service, but it’s not going to blow their minds.
What else do you know about them?
- What colours, flavours, sounds, sights and smells excite them?
- Where have they been, just before they came into your premises? And where are they headed now?
- How’s the family, what’s blooming in their garden, what’s the last great book they read?
- What are their hobbies, what are some amazing facts about their lives, their talents, their brilliant quirks and oddities?
Instead of asking “How’re you?” and not really wanting to hear the answer, you can interrupt the norm.
Ask “what’s your favourite colour?” or “did you used to have chocolate or strawberry topping on your icecream as a kid?”
Don’t ask about the weather. Instead, ask “what’s your favourite Elvis song?” or “what’s the best beach you’ve ever been to in your whole life?”
Humans are infinitely interesting when you bother to get to know them.
I promise you, your customers are no exception.
CUSTOMERS ARE EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE IN ORDINARY MOMENTS
You’d be amazed the kinds of ordinary folk who used to be circus performers, phone sex workers, snake handlers, animal communicators and honky-tonk pianists.
Every human has been somewhere exhilarating, met someone famous, done something hilarious, illegal, life-threatening or death-defying.
Take the time to learn about your customers. When you ask interesting questions, you’ll get very satisfying answers.
Now, I understand you don’t always have free time at work. But when you do, make good use of it.
Even when you don’t have much time, you can still transform small talk into a series of interesting tidbits divulged over visits. Ask better questions.
Soon you won’t be addressing your customer as “Jessica” but “Jess the lovely vet who keeps bees and makes sourdough bread on weekends.”
How do you think that might make them feel?
Surprise Your Customers With Unexpected Choices
Sometimes, exceptional service is as simple as mixing things up.
Give your patrons an unexpected choice in your business.
Turn to them and say “I’m about to change the music playlist. Are you more in the mood for acoustic blues or indie folk right now?”
Or walk up to them with an album in each hand and say “Would you rather listen to Ray Charles or Fleet Foxes?”
It can be as simple as asking them “Do you think it’s fractionally chilly in here? Would you feel cosier with the heater on?”
Hand over the reigns in some small way. It makes your customers feel invested in your business. Like they have energetic shares. And it feels wonderful.
You can even take this to the realm of social media. Craft your next post as a question or vote. Invite customers to share their preferences by commenting on your post.
This way you get a two-for-one.
You reinforce your exceptional customer service approach. And you boost your brand’s online visibility with interactive posts.
INVITE REGULARS TO TEST YOUR NEW PRODUCTS + SERVICES
Before you introduce a new product or service to your range, you always have to test it. First on yourself, then on staff, and sometimes on friends or outsiders.
Now, that’s fine if they’re well-trained testers who understand your business model well, but usually they’re not. They’re not even your target market.
So why not take your proposed new thing straight to your best customers?
Why not ask them what they think? After all, they’re the ones making genuine purchase decisions.
The best way to do this is to limit the options, to ensure the response you elicit aligns with your direction. So word your test offering just right.
You might say something like:
- We’re bringing in this new product next month, would you want it in indigo or white?
- What do you think Julie, do you like this best in the full size or half size option?
- How do you find the brown rice in this new dish? Does the flavour work for you or would white rice work better?
Involving them in small decisions like these can make them feel valued and, having invested in the new offering themselves, they’re likely to become the first buyers and eager advocates for it.
SHOW CUSTOMERS YOU VALUE THEIR OPINION
You won’t often have a new product to test, but you’ll always have variables you can ask your loyal customers about.
Perhaps tomorrow’s daily special is a toss-up between pumpkin and tomato soup, since you’ve got an epic harvest of both. Ask your best customer which one they’d brave the cold for.
Or maybe you’re making tarts. It’s as simple as “Hey Mike, I’m planning the menu for next week.. did you prefer the lemon tart or the rhubarb tart?”
This works beautifully in person.
But you can always reach out to customers online. You can invite responses on Facebook or Instagram. Or encourage them to participate in a poll through your newsletter, or a fun survey on your blog.
Just don’t make it too official. There’s nothing exceptional about businesses doing research for their own benefit. Remember, the point is that your customers feel special, involved and appreciated.
Keep it light and keep the focus on making customers feel valued.
BECOME A USEFUL RESOURCE TO THEM BEYOND BUSINESS
As you get to know your customers better, you can begin to share information that they’re likely to appreciate.
It might be a recommendation. Like a great movie, book, local workshop, artist exhibition or walking trail.
Focus on what you already know, and what you have in common. This can be done so simply. We humans are problem solving machines.
I bet you’ll think of things naturally as you start to invest more in your customers. Ideas, suggestions and resources will pop into your head.
They mention it’s their mother’s birthday and they need to go gift shopping, and you just happen to know a great shop you can tell them about.
Or you see a special at the local garden centre on vegetable seedlings. And you know, because you listen, that they adore their garden. Tell them.
Maybe you recall, from previous conversations, that they’re a red wine drinker, and you just had the finest sangiovese last night. Write down the name for them!
Don’t be afraid to invest in people a little more than is common.
That’s the whole point of exceptional customer service – going the extra mile to generate great feelings in your customers.
Sharing your knowledge, recommendations and common ground offers customers more than just the regular product or service experience.
ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS FOR SUGGESTIONS + RECOMMENDATIONS
Information sharing goes both ways.
Having a large network allows you access to all kinds of information that will benefit you in your personal and work life.
And there’s no reason you can’t extend your network to include your best customers. You can ask for their recommendations on all sorts of things.
When someone asks for your opinion, advice, wisdom or recommendation, it makes you feel valuable.
The same is true for your customers.
Not only will it make them feel flattered and more connected to you, they often have fabulous information to share.
Your customers might be locals who’ve lived in the area long enough to know the trustworthy plumber from a flaky one.
Or perhaps they have a friend down the road who has just the kind of timber you’re looking for.
You don’t know which of them are connected to people you need to talk to at the council, or which of them work for local advertising or marketing channels and would happily give you a great discount on a valuable promo opportunity.
Consider this another two-for-one opportunity. You get a great tip and your customers feel appreciated in unexpected ways.
Exceptional customer service is a win for everyone.
PAY ATTENTION + OPEN YOUR HEART TO THEM
The beauty of tending to regular customers is that you become capable of noticing differences in their energy and mood.
We’re all ordinary humans. We all have our moments. It pays to take notice.
When a usually cheerful character drops in looking forlorn, we know they need a bit of extra care. When the guy who always wears black decides to don a bright beanie, we know he’s in a fun place.
You can take these small noticings and deliver just the right attitude and service.
Body language, non-verbal and verbal cues will tell you where people are at. Don’t pry when they want to be left alone. Reach out when they want to connect.
Boost their confidence whenever you have the opportunity. Remind them that they’re wonderful and worthy, just for being human. Mean it.
That is what exceptional service looks like.
It doesn’t have to be big. An unexpected compliment will do wonders for a human. You can keep a person feeling good for days, weeks, even years, from just one kind comment in passing.
Now I’m not suggesting you exploit that; empty compliments feel awful. But I am suggesting you embrace this knowledge and do good with it.
Yeah, you can comment on their new haircut, or blue shoes, but you can also compliment them in ways that reach a bit deeper. Try complimenting them on their uplifting energy, their warmth, their ability to put together an outfit.
Open your heart. Share what you truly enjoy about them.
Decide to look for the positive in every one. I promise, you can always find things to appreciate.
Do they buy the same thing every time? Tell them how wonderful it is to encounter people who know who they are and what they like.
Do they take a long time deciding? Let them know you find it refreshing when people take the time to ponder what’s important to them.
Pay attention, and you’ll notice traits that are easy to love about each person.
If you really want to bring out the best in your customers, look for the best in them. Then let them know that you see it.
We all need to feel seen. We all love to feel appreciated.
You Can Surprise and Delight Your Customers
This is risky stuff. You’ll actually have to put in some effort and be authentic. But this is exactly how you can offer exceptional customer service.
None of these ideas need to take up extra time. They’re tiny adjustments to your regular interactions that allow for a more genuine and interesting exchange.
Choose to focus on your customers with love and an open heart, and they’ll feel it.
Drop them a lifeline when you can see they need it – a genuine smile, an extra marshmallow on their hot chocolate, a free gift wrap to make their purchase a personal treat, or three minutes of your quiet work day to stop and chat.
It’s so rare in this world, let alone in the realm of customer service.
If you can consistently surprise and delight your customers, there will be no competition for you.
You’ll be so far ahead in your service offering and sales that nobody can touch you.
I wish you all the best.
HI, I'm SARAH
I’m here to help you work smarter, not harder. I teach passionate business owners how to charge premium prices, attract the best customers, save time and make money with ease.