07/26/11
14 comments 6 Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations by   |   14 comments

Guest post by Lara Braithwaite of Bella Puzzles.

When you exceed a customer’s expectations you are delivering what they purchased and more. Exceptional services or products are rarely forgotten. Here are six ways to make your customer’s experience with your business both exceptional and memorable.

1. Be thoughtful. Provide a pleasant, easily navigable shopping experience. Chances are you hear the same questions over and over again from potential customers.

These questions point to issues your site is not addressing as well as it could.

>Take action: Review a month’s worth of your correspondence with customers. Make a list of their questions. Figure out how your website or shop policies can better answer the three questions that are the most frequently asked.

2. Be impeccable with your words. Provide accurate product or service descriptions, and only make promises you can keep. You are better off under promising and over delivering than vice versa.

(Consider the example of shipping. “Ships within 24 hours” sounds impressive, but if you have trouble meeting that promise 1 time out of 10, you end up with one-tenth of your customers unhappy. You don’t need to change anything except your description of your shipping policy. If it’s “ships within 48-72 hours” but you are still shipping within 24 hours 9 times out of 10, you’ve given yourself a chance to impress 9 customers. And the tenth customer still gets their package exactly when they expected it, so they’re pleased too.)

>Take action: Identify at least one promise (real or implied) that you are making to your customers that you might not be living up to every time. Rewrite it so you can exceed the promise 9 times out of 10.

3. Be polite. Your customers enjoy hearing their own names, and they like to hear “please” and “thank you” as much as you do.

It’s free to provide service with good manners, and you are grateful for their business, aren’t you? Say so with your actions and your words. Over and over and over.

Do this every day with every customer.

4. Be accountable. If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize, and make it up to the customer.

A refund is less expensive – both financially and emotionally – than bad press from an unhappy customer.

>Take action: Recall the best experience you’ve ever had returning something you bought. Make a list of things the vendor did to make that experience a good one. Can you implement any of these in your business?

5. Be accessible. Make it easy to contact you. Use your full name. Respond promptly to all emails or calls from customers. Listen to and respond to what customers are asking or saying about your business.

>Take action: Add your full name and email address to your Facebook page, Twitter profile, Etsy shop, and website.

6. Be generous. Reward your clients with unexpected benefits. This could be a small gift added to the purchase, or a coupon for their next shopping experience with you.

>Take action: Make a list of three possible rewards you could share with your customers.

I hope you’ll act on at least one of these items today. Please share the steps you took in the comments below. I wish you much success.

More about Lara: Lara Braithwaite’s Bella Puzzles are a custom, luxury guest book alternative for weddings and other events. Her puzzles have been featured on dozens of wedding blogs and in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. For proof that Lara’s business practices really do exceed customer expectations, check out the feedback for the BellaPuzzlesToo shop on Etsy.

 

14 comments to 6 Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations Click here to reply

This is SUPER! What a wonderfully written post and SO helpful! Thanks Lara!

bridgette commented on July 26th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Glad you enjoyed it Bridgette. Lara did a wonderful job, didn’t she? Thanks again Lara for a fabulous post. You are the perfect person to talk to about this, as an exceptional business lady yourself. Bella Puzzles is amazing. :)
-Brittni

papernstitch commented on July 26th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Thank you, Brittni!

Lara @ Bella Puzzles commented on July 26th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Yes and Amen!! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I can definitely vouch for having very thorough store policies. Being polite, accountable, and exceeding expectations all contribute to having excellent customer service. I also recommend going the extra mile with charming packaging. Taking the time/spending a bit extra to make their order feel like a special gift just for them makes a huge difference. I love my customers and think they are fantastic–so I want to make sure they realize how much they are appreciated by the service they receive! Thanks Lara.

Mai commented on July 26th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Thanks, Mai. I’d love to see how you package your beautiful jewelry and hair accessories. If it’s half as lovely as the items you make, your customers must be ecstatic!

Lara
Lara @ Bella Puzzles recently posted..120 pc PHOTO Puzzle Guest Book (A personalized luxury guest book alternative)

Lara @ Bella Puzzles commented on July 27th, 2011 at 10:15 am

This is such great advice! Thank you Lara.

After reading your advice I’ve changed my shipping notice to tell people how I ship and how long it will typically take to arrive at their door. It seems to be the most frequent question I get and had thought it was already stated, but when i when back to read it- nope it wasn’t there.

I am also in the process of putting my name “out there”. When I stated I wanted some anonimity because the self doubter in me never thought I’d actually sell anything. But I am proud of what I’ve done so far and hope to have my name more openly attached to my work within a couple of weeks.
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margaret commented on July 28th, 2011 at 10:59 am

Thanks, Margaret. I’m glad you found something useful info in the article.

I took a look at your Etsy profile. One quick fix is adding your name and email to the top of your profile.

All my best,
Lara

Lara @ Bella Puzzles commented on July 28th, 2011 at 11:27 am

Thank you Lara, I appreciate the feedback. As well as adding my FULL name and email to the top of my profile, I actually shifted the whole thing around. And plan on taking a closer look at it when I have a bit more time. Thank you!!

Ps. I absolutely LOVE your puzzles. The world is a giant puzzle for me and feel super terrific when I look at something and succeed in puzzling it out- weather it’s parenting, crafting, or putting an actual puzzle together with my three year old.

margaret commented on July 28th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

OOooo….I like the new profile, Margaret.

The life as puzzle analogy I like, too. ;)

- Lara
Lara @ Bella Puzzles recently posted..30 pc WOOD Puzzle Guest Book (A personalized luxury guest book alternative)

Lara @ Bella Puzzles commented on July 28th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Everyone can benefit from this advice! Thanks for posting it Lara! A smile can go a long way, even when it’s online :)
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Rhianna Lederman commented on July 28th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

You’re so right Rhianna. (Thanks for including one in your comment.)

:) Lara

Lara @ Bella Puzzles commented on July 28th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I agree with the people who have commented that everyone with a business could benefit from following these items a bit more often, if not all the time. In today’s social media driven age it’s too easy for the wrong messages to spread.

Take a recent example with an experience I had with filmmaker Kevin Smith. In the end all I have is a petty grievance, but it outlines a much greater point that, if businesses loose sight of could become the source of increased negative customer experiences.

More details here, if you care to read more:
http://potatochipmath.blogspot.com/2011/09/evening-without-kevin-smith.html
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Andrew F. Butters commented on September 8th, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thanks for good advise, I’ve had all kinds of buying experiences online and I’m going to guess you have, too. I’ve experienced everything from getting a surprise freebie gift with my order I wasn’t expecting to “Sorry, your product seems to be lost in the mail. We’ll let you know when we track down your package.” And everything in between!
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Samantha M commented on October 20th, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Excellent piece. I just loved it. Thank you so much.
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peculiarblend commented on August 26th, 2013 at 7:36 am

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