It’s a customer’s world these days.
Customer needs and expectations have evolved with time. Customers today are demanding a seamless and convenient experience that is second-to-none.
That’s not all. The stakes are really high considering how customers have an endless number of brands and products to choose from. They are simply spoilt for choice.
Think about it — if your business fails to deliver, customers will simply move on to another brand that fits their bill. With a limitless array of brands to choose from, the customer will easily find another provider in no time.
Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce tweeted about how a survey by Salesforce showed that customers are more than willing to switch brands in search of a fulfilling experience.
So here’s the thing — just managing to live up to customer expectations will no longer work. If you’re looking to keep your customers coming back for more, then you need to exceed what is expected of you.
A study by Acquia revealed close to 66% of customers can’t remember the last time a brand exceeded their expectations.
If you’re looking to stay in the race and stand out from the competition in a congested market, then your best bet is to adopt a ‘surprise and delight’ approach with customers. Companies like Amazon and Zappos have outdone themselves in this department. They have witnessed astronomical growth, all thanks to the top-notch customer service they offer.
This clearly means one thing — surpassing customer expectations is what will help you win over loyal customers!
On the other hand, managing to meet customer expectations will leave you with satisfied customers who may stick around with your brand for a while. But don’t forget, these are customers who will easily get swayed by competitors who are vying for their attention with better offers and deals. A surefire way to keep them coming back to you is by proving exactly how your campaign is impacting their bottom line. An all-in-one social media dashboard helps you showcase your success in a way your customers can easily understand.
Brands that constantly exceed customer expectations are more successful in building loyal customer bases.
Let’s get down to the real deal and look at the top benefits of going over and above to meet the whims and fancies of your customers.
Why exceeding customer expectations is a must
Getting a surprise freebie or an unexpected gift from a business not only has the potential to make a customer happy but also has the ability to turn a customer into a loyal, brand advocate!
The benefits of exceeding customer expectations are long-lasting. Let’s dive in:
- Build a loyal customer base and drive repeat purchases
4 out of 5 companies believe that retaining loyal customers is any day cheaper than going after new prospects. Giving your customer what they want, and then some more is the trick to retain them. While customer retention may take time to bear fruit, it has proven to be extremely beneficial for businesses in the long run. Get this – just a 5% increase in retention rates can eventually result in a whopping 75% increase in the profitability of the business.
Word of mouth travels fast. Exceeding customer expectations is going to leave your customers raving about you. On the downside, when an experience with a brand turns ugly, customers can be quick to take to social media to vent out their frustration.
According to Hiver, 36% of customers will share their negative experiences with friends and colleagues. Your goal should be to avoid this at all costs by offering delightful, exceptional customer experiences which will ultimately improve your business metrics. The team at gaming company Solitaire Bliss, for example, found that improving their customer response time increased their overall games played per user by 10%.
- Stay ahead of the competition
When you’re dealing with break-neck competition, customer service is one of the primary brand differentiators in the eyes of the customer. There are plenty of competitors out there that are vying for your customers’ attention. When you up your game and deliver exceptional experiences – with the help of empathetic support staff and the right customer support tools – your customers will feel that they are more valued by you than by your competitors across the road. This will keep your customers hooked on your brand and stop them from wandering away in search of better options.
5 examples of brands going the extra mile for their customers
Many brands have done exceptionally well in identifying, meeting, and exceeding their customers’ expectations. We did some digging and have arrived at our top 5 picks of grand gestures by popular brands. As you’re looking to take your customer service to the next level, these examples are sure to help you get a headstart.
Here’s what we’ve got:
- Amazon: A Norse Mythology-inspired customer service interaction
We need to hand it to Amazon for striking the right chord time and again with their customers. The company has customer obsession woven into its culture. They take the time out to understand customer needs, go to great levels to solve customer problems, and tailor experiences that will delight them.
Taking a leaf out of Jeff Bezos’ 2016 letter to his shareholders — this is what he had to say about true customer obsession:
“Customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.”
Let’s look at one of the most popular examples of their wow-worthy customer experience.
This story is about an interesting chat between Amazon’s customer service rep and a customer whose book wasn’t delivered on time. The conversation took on another note when the Amazon rep introduced himself as “Thor” and the customer joined in asking if he could play Thor’s father, “Odin”. What then transpired was a fun conversation between the two which eventually led to sorting out the delivery issue.
At the end of the day, Amazon managed to win back a customer by turning up their customer service with a dash of humor!
- Southwest Airlines: He shoots, he scores
Southwest airlines has won many hearts with its over-the-top customer service. The company serves over 11 million passengers in a month and makes it a point to get to know their customers, be responsive, and always keep on a positive attitude. They believe that great customer service starts with happy employees and so they make it a point to keep their employees happy with quality benefits.
One of the most recent stories ‘He Shoots, He Scores’, was a heart-warming one that left us with a smile. A customer left behind their phone in the departure lounge. When the Southwest Airlines’ airport staff spotted it, the team informed the ground staff who alerted the air traffic control, who then contacted the cabin crew and requested them to make a short stop-over to pick up the phone. Click here to watch all the action — it’s wonderful to see the pilot lean out the window to take the phone that was being handed over by the ground staff.
This tweet went on to get over 5K likes for all the right reasons — at times, a simple yet timely gesture such as this can speak volumes about the brand’s customer service.
- Zappos: A bouquet of lilies, roses, and customer love
Leave it to Zappos to warm your heart with touching customer stories. They are all about putting their customers at the core of their business.
Bring out the tissues — we’ve got a story that is sure to tug at your hearts.
A customer was shopping on Zappos to buy shoes for her elderly mother who, due to a medical condition, could not wear hard-soled shoes. From the six pairs that she order for her mother, she could only wear two pairs for a long period. When her mother called up Zappos to return the other four pairs, not only was the customer service rep empathizing with her mother, but the rep also sent across a bouquet of lilies and roses. That’s not all, a few days later the customer, her mother, and sister were upgraded as Zappos VIP Members.
Zappos makes it a point to build a loyal customer base with stellar customer service. This explains why they make 75% of their business from repeat customers.
- Trader Joe’s: Going the extra mile on snow
Trader Joe’s is another great example of a brand that provides a praise-worthy customer experience.
In this story, Trader Joe’s did not let a company policy stop them from serving their customers.
When the daughter of an 89-year-old retired navy officer called up Trader Joe’s in a desperate attempt to have essentials delivered to her father who was stuck at home due to snow — the company happily obliged even though the grocery store had a no-delivery policy.
Trader Joe’s staff not only agreed to deliver the order to her father but also made the order free of cost! The man’s granddaughter took to Reddit to share this heart-touching story which soon went viral for obvious reasons!
- Burger King: Being kind doesn’t cost anything
Burger King has a great reputation for being a customer-centric brand that provides warm, frictionless experiences.
This is the story of Rebecca Boening, a diabetic who pulled up at a Burger King outlet when she realized that her blood sugar levels had reached extremely low levels. Knowing very well that this is a life-threatening situation, Rebecca quickly stopped by Burger King to grab some food. While placing her order, she mentioned that she was diabetic and in urgent need of food. Burger King employee Tina Hardy rushed to Rebecca with a serving of ice cream. Tina then handed over the food and ensured that Rebecca did not leave till she was feeling better.
Rebecca’s post on Facebook has gone viral ever since she posted, with over 558K likes! This goes on to show that at times, all it takes is a simple gesture such as caring for someone in the time of their need.
To be the best, be inspired from the best!
Exceeding customer expectations is an investment that will surely pay off and benefit your businesses in the long run. What we need to take away from these great examples is that customer service today is less about telling people how great you are, and a lot more about creating memorable and special experiences that say it all!
Being thoughtful and anticipating your customers’ needs before they come to you with it, is the best way to exceed customer expectations, bring in more business, and build lasting customer relationships.