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Monday, August 25, 2014

(SALES) Be Unexpected


Two of the kids, my wife, and I went to Great America Theme Park this summer. We ate lunch at the food court so we could all choose the food we wanted. I chose a low/no carb option of a bacon cheeseburger, no bun. I ordered it without the fries, but when the plate came it had the fries. No big deal. 

About five minutes into our meal a young lady who was sweeping up trash noticed that the kids were picking on dad for eating ?no carb.? She stopped at the table and informed us that she too was trying to watch her carb intake. My son Carver said, ?Yeah, do you see the pile of fries on his plate?? I smiled and said, "Of course I?m not eating them." She asked if they had made a mistake with my order. I told her I had ordered it without fries but it was no big deal, I just won?t eat them. She asked, ?Didn?t they offer you the side salad as an option?? I told her they did not. Remember, this is the young lady picking up the trash. She said, ?I?ll be right back.?

Moments later she returned with a big smile and big salad plate and my choice of dressings. She said, ?They messed up, so I had them make you a full salad.?

A young lady picking up trash, took time to notice, engage, and fix a problem I didn?t even realize I had. That was unexpected.

Our friends Pam and John invited us for drinks before dinner at their favorite pizza place, Glass Nickel Pizza (@GNPCOshkosh). We kid them as being really old, since they go to dinner at 4:30. We have our chit-chat, and they invite us to the table to finish drinks and conversation before their pizza arrived. I don?t eat pizza like most people do (see ?no carbs? above) so I generally don?t go out for pizza.

About five minutes later, the manager of the store came to the table and said, ?Folks I have some bad news.? She informed us that a mistake was made in the kitchen and instead of the thin crust that Pam and John had ordered, they made a hand-tossed crust. She went on to tell us that they already put the thin-crust version in the oven but wanted to know if we wanted the hand tossed one as well since it was ready now. She personally brought the pizza to the table and apologized again. Said the correct order would be ready in seven minutes and they could box it up to take home if we wanted. She also summoned the waitress and asked her to refill all of the drinks at the table, on her.

Noticing a problem before the customer, fixing it, and going above and beyond with free drinks and a free pizza to go. That was unexpected.

I love having unexpected service, don?t you? It?s so fun to be surprised with great service, no matter where you find it. Sadly it happens so infrequently, it?s worth writing about.

For years I?ve known from personal experience that the better the service, the more likely I am do business with that company again. It seems many people have come to the same conclusion. Now there is some research to back up the opinion.

Peter Kriss is a senior research scientist at Medallia. He published an article in the Harvard Business Review about research he and his team recently completed. They attempted to quantify the impact of customer service:

Intuitively, most people recognize the value of a great customer experience. Brands that deliver them are ones that we want to interact with as customers ? that we become loyal to, and that we recommend to our friends and family. But as executives leading businesses, the value of delivering such an experience is often a lot less clear, because it can be hard to quantify.

The amazing conclusion:

What we found: After controlling for other factors that drive repeat purchases in the transaction-based business (for example, how often the customer needs the type of goods and services that the company sells), customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.

Think about that as it relates to your sales career. Are you providing unexpectedly good service? How would you like to increase your transaction per customer by 140 percent next year?

As I looked at some of the many benefits of providing exceptional service, I began with these four that all happen to start with R: 

1. Referrals: Your customers will talk about you.
2. Renewals: Happy customers will become long-term customers.
3. Rewarding: There is something magical and emotional about providing great service.
4. Rich: Customers spending 140% more means more sales, more commissions.

Legendary trainer Don Beveridge told me, ?You can never maintain a long-term competitive advantage based solely on product and price. It?s what you do beyond the product that will make a difference.?

What are you doing beyond the product? What can you start doing beyond the product? Maybe at your next sales meeting you could do some brainstorming on what your company can do to provide exceptional customer service. It's not nearly as hard as you think to stand out.

With a few minutes of thought it shouldn?t be difficult to create your own personal list of things you can do beyond what is expected to provide your customers with exceptional service. There are likely a lot of places to buy what you sell. Customer experience can be one of your key points of differentiation.

Doing what is expected is good customer service. Doing the unexpected will cause them to spend 140 percent more.

In the space below, why not share your favorite ?unexpected? customer service tactic.  I?ll get you started with mine: A hand-written ?Thank You? card.

We talk frequently about the need to be a source of business advantage to your clients by providing information. I shared this research with some of my retail clients. You might consider doing that with some of yours.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc.. You can reach Jeff at

Twitter: @JeffreyASchmidt

(8/22/2014 2:47:27 PM)
Great post, Jeff. Extra gestures build loyalty. (1) When I was a DOS and had space left in a syndicated show, I'd toss in local advertisers who recently committed to annuals and sent them a note to let them know I appreciated their commitment. (2) Took my car in for service and when I picked it up, they had hand washed it. (3) Ordered a chair and after setup, the delivery guy presented gift bag of potpourri and a thank you note from the owner. PS: I would've ordered the hand-tossed!

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