Going the Extra Mile: Colleen Answers Your Questions

Dear Colleen,
My boss is always saying that we have to “go the extra mile”, “surprise the customer” and give them something that they are not expecting. I am scared to do this in case the surprise becomes the new expectation. What do you suggest?
Thanks, Marie in Calgary

Hi Marie,

I am not a big fan of the supposedly tried-and-true client relations strategy of managing expectations and then delivering results that exceed those expectations. It sends the wrong message to clients and potentials. Think about it. If you make a habit of under-promising and over-delivering, then you have established a new benchmark, a new normal and have to perform at this level each time you do business with that client.

Will you always be able to meet this new expectation? Maybe not. Will your client or potential always expect this new level of service? Absolutely yes! And if you are unable to exceed those expectations even once, then your credibility can be damaged. When dealing with a client, it’s better to be specific about what you’re going to do and deliver on that promise. Remember that people buy from people they trust. Trust is built by demonstrating consistent behavior over a period of time, and it’s that consistency that makes buyers believe in your honesty and integrity as a sales person.

Be careful with this one. I am NOT saying don’t go the extra mile for your client or potential. I am saying to manage the expectation carefully. Remember that above all else client and potentials equate honesty, integrity and trust with the consistency of your behavior. Yes, it is a fine line. Your best bet for long term relationships is always to say what you are going to do and do it exactly the way you said you were going to. Some ideas that I do think you can use that will “wow” the customer and set the right expectations are:

  1. thank you cards/gifts after a purchase
  2. a repeat customer thank you
  3. referrals to your customer to help them grow their business
  4. a “1 year anniversary” thank you for your business gift or acknowledgement

One way to look at this is to examine what all your competitors are doing and then do the exact opposite! That will set you apart from your competition in a way that keeps your customers coming back for more.

Dedicated to increasing your sales,


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