How to Keep Your Customers Happy

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If your focus is on meeting your customers’ expectations and making them happy, you’ve already lost. In today’s competitive environment, you have to exceed their expectations and make them ecstatic. Hopefully, this doesn’t come as shocking news to you. People much smarter than I have been saying it for several years now. (For the record, people much stupider than I have been saying it also, but do we really want to focus on them?) So we all know that to succeed, we have to exceed the customer’s expectations.

So how come so few of us are doing it?Maybe it’s because we don’t really know what exceeding the customer’s expectations looks like. So let’s take a brief look at how the Beatles did it.

Here’s how record albums were made when the Beatles were just starting out: put one or two hits on, and fill up the rest with throwaway songs. That’s what everybody else was doing, and it’s what the music buyers expected. But the Beatles decided very early on to exceed the buyers’ expectations. Once they got their first few albums under their belts, they strove to make every song on every album something special. Don’t believe me? Then show me where the throwaways are on Rubber Soul or Revolver. Now, there may be some songs you like better than others, but there are no clunkers. The point is that the Beatles worked hard to give value far and above what their fans (their customers) expected.

When the Beatles were finished recording the Sgt. Pepper album, they decided to print all the lyrics on the back cover. This had never been done before; it exceeded the customers’ expectations. They also packaged the album with a special page of cut-outs. It was kind of like the Cracker Jack model: you buy an album, and there’s a toy surprise inside! With the White Album, they included glossy 8 by 10s of each Beatle, plus a fold-out poster. Again, exceeding the customers’ expectations. And notice something: each time, the Beatles raised the bar higher than the time before. Because every time you exceed the customer’s expectation, that then becomes the new expectation. So you can’t just do it once and think, “Whew, thank goodness that’s over!” It’s a continuous process.

So what can you do in your business to truly exceed your customers’ expectations? When fans first bought their copy of the White Album back in 1968, they were surprised and delighted when they opened it up. Are your customers surprised and delighted by their experience working with you? Because if they’re not, then they’re not really your customers. You’re just borrowing them until they find somebody better.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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