TIP 14: Give Your Customers What They Ask For, But Nothing More.

It’s not your job to remind them that batteries are not included.

Negative Ned Says…

Ned Wearing Shirt with Customer Service Cross Out

“I don’t understand why some employees bend over backwards to sell the customer stuff they never even asked about. If a guy came in wanting a new TV, he’d say so, right? Why spend time showing him a new TV if he just came in to buy a phone charger and a couple of DVDs? Most of the time people are just browsing anyway, so after all the time you spend explaining something, they’re just going to leave without buying it anyway.”

Positive Paul Says…

Positive Paul

“Customers base their satisfaction on their expectations. These expectations may be pre-set in their minds and sometimes we can unknowingly contribute to their unrealistic expectations. For example, if we say, ‘The dentist will be with you shortly,’ the patient may think the dentist will appear in five minutes. When the dentist arrives 20 minutes later, the patient is dissatisfied because his expectations were not met.

To keep customers happy, satisfied and loyal, we need to do two things:

  1. Communicate clearly, especially about wait times. Studies have shown that customers don’t mind waiting if they are informed about the wait.
  2. Exceed expectations.

When communicating wait times with customers, be careful about using words like ‘shortly,’ ‘ASAP,’ or ‘momentarily.’ Instead, say things like, ‘We’ll be with you as soon as we can,’ or ‘You’re next.’ If they ask, ‘How long will it be?’, give a realistic time frame, like 20 minutes. But if that time frame is up and you’re still not ready for them, you must communicate this change immediately. If not, their expectation will not be met and they will be dissatisfied.

Once you’ve communicated the situation as tactfully as you can, the next step is to give the customer more than she expected. In most cases, what people expect is ordinary. It takes creativity and empathy to create something extraordinary.

Since the future of all companies lies in keeping your customers happy, think of ways to elevate your company above the competition. For example, what if you went into a discount store and a salesperson helped you find the exact size and color that you wanted? Or you went to a self-service gas station and an attendant came out and cleaned your windshield for free?

One company that always goes above and beyond is Zappos, an online shoe store. Here’s what they do: 

  • Zappos offers free shipping, occasionally upgrading to overnight shipping at no extra charge just to surprise the customer.
  • Zappos’ customer service line is answered by representatives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Zappos’ service is so outstanding that 75% of its business comes from repeat customers. To gain loyal customers, you must provide everything your customers expect and more.

A Real World Example

Robert Colannino’s Story 


This story demonstrates the importance of treating clients to an unexpected pleasure and giving them more than what they asked for.

“It was a Sunday afternoon around 3:30, and we were walking along Market Street in San Francisco looking for the perfect place to have brunch. A sandwich board advertising Bloody Mary’s beckoned us into a particular restaurant. We were greeted by the hostess and sat down, excited to place our order. When the bartender told us he had sold out of the Bloody Mary mix and asked us what else we would like to drink, the hostess heard our disappointment. To keep us from leaving, she said, ‘You will have your Bloody Mary’s. I will be back in 15 minutes.’

Not only did she come back as promised with the supplies for the bartender to mix up our Bloody Mary’s, but she also offered us a drink on the house while we waited. Her sincere offer to make our experience the one we came in for felt completely natural. She provided us with a genuinely unexpected pleasure. And the Bloody Mary’s were excellent, too!”

Moral to the story: Doing extra little things does not always require you to go shopping.

Strategies to Turn This Around

Go above and beyond.

  1. Find out what your customer wants and needs.
  2. Give her what she wants — and a little extra.
  3. Be careful of words like shortly, ASAP and momentarily.


Remember:  Providing a little extra something doesn’t have to cost you.

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

— Roger Staubach

© 2012 by Barbara Khozam Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this message may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the publisher.

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