Surprise me.

Customer service has a lot to be said for it.

Time again I find myself stunned by the lack of service I receive as a paying customer. The worst I have come across recently was in a fashion retail boutique, where the assistant read a book the entire time five customers wandered in and out of the store without so much as a glance. Should’ve got the name of that book!

But then there are those times that blow you away. I was recently at an Italian restaurant trying to make use of a GrabOne voucher that was gathering dust. The food was alright, the wine enjoyable, but the service was outstanding. We left the evening blown away by how a great waiter can change the entire customer experience. I left a good word at the counter, and have been singing its praises ever since.  

Funny though, that the best way to get word-of-mouth is to exceed customers’ expectations. Surprise them, and you’ll have them raving to their friends about it. I wouldn’t even have remembered the restaurant’s name.  

As a business, it’s worth thinking about how to incorporate the element of surprise into your customer’s routine. Perhaps start by identifying the product or experience that you want to create ‘surprise’ around. Think about what expectations a customer brings, then top that. Simple.

I return constantly to one coffee shop because they remember my name and order. I know which retail outlet of a chain store will treat me as a real person and not a sales target. And I choose ‘be natural’ muesli over anything else because of the way their reps treated me at the Foodshow. 

All of these examples have created ‘surprise’ for me. In this climate, matching a customer’s expectation is never going to be good enough. To remain competitive, we have to over deliver.

Author: Gabrielle Gillard