The art of going above and beyond
I talk a lot about “the wow factor” in business, more specifically, what it means to truly go above and beyond in customer service. Lots of companies out there offer average service, and some, unfortunately, offer bad service, though they typically don’t last very long. Discover what it takes to make a lasting impression on clients so they leave saying, “Wow, I can’t wait to tell my friends about this place!”
Two examples come to mind of “above and beyond” customer service. A few years ago, I discovered my cholesterol was high, and I decided to change my diet and exercise more instead of taking medication. My cholesterol level went down, but I missed my daily glass of sangria, so, I created my own healthy version. One of the restaurants I always visit when I’m in Dallas is Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse, and I once ordered my version of sangria there. Now, every time I show up for dinner, without even asking for it, the waiter or bus boy has my drink waiting for me. Plus everything is presented separately, so that I can enjoy it the way I want it. It’s a small gesture, but it makes me feel special.
The second example involves a rather crazy dining experience I recently had at Morimoto in Philadelphia. Halfway through my meal, I heard rapid, loud footsteps approaching me. I looked up to see my waiter nearly screaming, “Mr. Silberman! Mr. Silberman! Look! The last sushi chef in the corner is about to make your special, the yellowtail and salmon carpaccio!” I smiled politely, but he kept going. “Mr. Silberman! You don’t understand. Look!” He then placed his hands on my face and physically turned my head to view the sushi chef in action. He went on to say in a loud, pitching voice, “You probably think that’s just a knife in his hand, right? No. That is a $2,500 knife that we had flown in from Japan! It will slice your sashimi thinner than you have ever seen before, and the bottle in his other hand, you see that?” I said, “Yeah, it looks like olive oil?” The waiter screamed, “No, you don’t get it! It’s paprika, olive oil, ponzu, soy sauce, a hint of wasabi and a bit of–wait, don’t move Mr. Silberman.” He raced over to the sushi chef, grabbed my special order, and very slowly walked back over, carefully setting it down in front of me. He then dropped to both knees on the floor, staring at the plate and me, obviously waiting for me to take a bite. By that point, I was starting to think I was on a hidden camera. I took a bite to appease him, looked at him and smiled. He smiled, too, and walked away, looking very confident and even cocky.
Now, usually I hate it when my friends post pictures of their meals on social media, but sure enough, for the first time in my social media life, I snapped a pic of my sushi, posted it on Facebook and told this story. It was an unforgettable memory and experience, and it was all because that very animated waiter made me feel like such an important customer.
Consistency is Key
Going above and beyond involves more than simply doing something nice now and then for a client; the key is consistency. If your goal is for clients to feel over-the-top pampered from the moment they walk in until the time they leave, try to offer them fruit-infused water and a healthy snack as they wait, play relaxing music in the background, give a complimentary five minute neck and shoulder massage with every treatment and leave them with a few new, free products to try at home. Let’s say one day you’re running behind, or maybe you don’t feel 100%, and you blow off these things. Your client will feel slighted—not pampered. She has come to expect this level of service from you, and it plays into why she keeps coming back. Make sure she has the same amazing experience with you, every single time.
Getting to know your individual client’s preferences and lifestyle is key to going above and beyond. Not every gesture has to be a big one. Big gestures are nice, but a gesture is most memorable when it’s personal. Make notes about your client and review them each time they have an appointment with you. Even something as simple as remembering the names of your customer’s children or pets and asking about them makes a lasting impression. Perhaps your client prefers mint-scented products rather than floral scents, or you’ve noticed they’re okay with shaking hands but not big on hugging. Whatever it is that makes your customer unique can be integrated into a customized experience for them, which will make them feel special and appreciated.
Getting Everyone on Board
Just the other day, I witnessed one of my own employees walk around the front desk to sit next to one of our clients waiting with her little girl. My employee complimented the mom on how adorable her child was, and then she asked the girl if she wanted to play a game with her. Of course, the mom was beaming because, well, she’s a mom. It was a little gesture that cost nothing for my employee to make but made the mom and her daughter feel like princesses.
While some employees are naturally-born customer service superstars, others might not possess the same gene for people pleasing. Luckily, there are ways around that, and it starts with attitude. When staff members see business owners going above and beyond for each and every customer, it’s infectious. It becomes ingrained in the company’s culture. Even the shyest employees will want to do more for their customers.
I also find that giving employees incentives doesn’t hurt. For example, you could pay employees $20 every time they get a rave review on social media. Imagine how happy they would be, making an easy extra $200 per month, just for making customers feel amazing? It’s a win-win.
I sometimes tell my staff members to imagine they’re playing a game to win $10,000 if their next client posts a positive review on social media within 24 hours of their appointment. Getting staff members to actually plan out strategies for delivering above and beyond service makes it fun for everyone and fosters friendly competition.
It’s helpful, and encourages consistency, to create an “above and beyond” checklist for employees and post it in the workplace as a visual reminder. It could look something like this:
- Plan ahead: How will you impress each of your clients today?
- What will you say to them to make them feel special?
- What will you do for them that they will remember?
There may be no area of customer service where going above and beyond is more important than handling complaints, and every business owner gets them, no matter what. This is especially true because of a little thing called social media. If a customer has a good experience with you, they may or may not share it on a social media platform like Facebook. However, if they have a terrible experience with you, or if you don’t handle their complaint in a positive way, you can be sure they will blast you to all of their friends. The damage can be far-reaching.
Some customers are nearly impossible to please, no matter how hard you try. In my experience, much of what determines the outcome of a complaint has to do with the customer feeling like they have been heard. Though it’s not always easy dealing with a dissatisfied customer, think of it as a golden opportunity to demonstrate your top level service. If you can turn around an angry customer and leave them smiling, or better yet, praising you on social media for the way you took care of them, you’ll know you’re doing it right.
Take the Challenge
In a highly competitive business world, it’s challenging to stand apart from the crowd. Making an effort every day to ensure each and every customer feels like the most important person in the world is what I call going above and beyond.