These Three Little Words Are The Secret To Success

Customer Service Champions do just a little bit more – AND THEN SOME.

I confess. I’m a shopper. I really enjoy it.

I especially like the “grand openings” of new stores. In addition to all the merchandise and good prices, I usually find excellent customer service. The salespeople are filled with warm hellos, big smiles, and an eagerness to help.

Unfortunately, things change. All too often I’ve gone back to that same store some months later, and the hellos and smiles are gone. Salespeople are hard to find, and when I do find one, they seem terribly frazzled.

Like so many businesses, that store has fallen prey to the prospect-customer dilemma. They did everything they could to get the prospect’s attention, and they did their best job of turning the prospect into a customer. But once they “got” the customer, they tended to take him for granted.

The same thing happens in personal relationships. A man might do everything he can to attract a woman’s attention — in the beginning of the relationship. But once he has the relationship, he might easily take her or their union for granted.

It’s like the wife who said to her husband, “I don’t get it. When we were dating, you brought me flowers, took me out to dinner, and spent hours talking with me. Now there’s nothing. No flowers, no dinners, no conversation. I don’t understand.”

Her husband replied, “It’s easy to explain. Before, you were a prospect. Now, you’re a customer.”

As sad as that may be, it’s often true. Whether it is at home or in the world of business, service providers give lots of attention to the prospects and customers in the beginning of a relationship. But as time goes on, if there are no complaints, they just let them be.

During the last few issues of the “Tuesday Tip,” I’ve outlined six strategies you can use to make sure that never happens in your organization. I’ve told you how to move your customers from being merely “satisfied” to wildly “enthusiastic.”

Let me give you a seventh strategy. PRACTICE UNCOMMON COURTESY. So-called “common courtesy” has all but disappeared in many places of business.

For example, it wasn’t too long ago that retail salespeople thanked you for doing business with them. These days the thanks may be gone, or the thanks are given without meaning. In fact, you, the customer, may have to thank the salesperson for even bothering to help you. Something is wrong with this picture.

I remember Jay Leno talking about this phenomenon. After making a purchase, he told the clerk that she forgot to say “Thank you.” She curtly responded, “It’s printed on your receipt.”

When you offer old-fashioned courtesy, or when you practice uncommon courtesy, your customers are sure to notice. I know I sure do.

It happened to me just the other night. I arrived in Las Vegas about two in the morning and headed to the taxi stand at the airport. I expected some taxi driver to yell out, “Where to?” But my driver offered some uncommon courtesy. He said, “You must be tired. Let me help you with your bags.”

It was a little thing, but it made a difference. He acknowledged my feelings, offered help, and whisked me away. His uncommon courtesy earned him a larger tip.

What are you doing in the area of uncommon courtesy? Are you doing more than your competitors? It will cost you almost nothing to offer uncommon courtesy, but it will pay you back big time.

The eighth strategy I recommend is UNDER-PROMISE AND OVER-DELIVER. It always works.

Just promise less than you think you’ll be able to deliver. Then, if you do as promised, or even more than you promised, you’ll delight your customer.

Let’s say you’re doing a project for a customer. You tell the customer his project will be completed on Friday, knowing you have a good chance of completing it on Wednesday. When you call to announce the project is all done on Wednesday, the customer is wowed. He can’t help but think you’re really good. But should you finish on Friday as promised, the customer still feels good about the reliability of your service.

Then PROVIDE SMALL EXTRAS. It’s my ninth strategy. Provide a few small extras, and you will stand out in the minds of your customers.

One of our printers has learned to do that. Whenever he ships over a box of printing, he includes a small treat for my staff. He may include a few pieces of chocolate, a funny sticker, a colorful pen, or any number of things. Do you think my staff notices? Do you think my staff likes doing business with that printer? You bet!

I think of a pharmacy that learned how to provide some small extras. They just so happened to have a phone number that was very similar to a nearby movie theatre. As you can expect, they got a lot of wrong numbers, people calling to ask what time the movie started.

For a long time, the pharmacy people just told the callers they had the wrong number. Then they decided to provide a small extra and turn it into a win-win.

Whenever someone called to ask about the movie, the pharmacy person would say, “I’m sorry. This is the Walgreen’s store just down the street from the movie theatre. But I have the schedule right here. What movie were you interested in?”

Then, after answering the caller’s question, the pharmacy person would say, “When you finish the movie, you might consider coming over here. We have a great sale going on right now. Hope you enjoy the movie.”

Instead of being irritated by fifty wrong calls each day, this store turned it into fifty promotions per day. They provided a small extra by giving out the movie schedule, but they got a fair amount of business back.

If you noticed, all three of the customer service strategies in today’s Tip talk about doing a bit more. It’s a characteristic of Customer Service Champions. They never do just enough to get by. They always do just a little bit more — and then some. I think the following comment written by Carl Holmes says it quite well.


“These three little words are the secret to success.
They are the difference between average people and top people in most companies. The top people always do what is expected…and then some…
They are thoughtful of others; they are considerate and kind… and then some.
They meet their obligations and responsibilities fairly and squarely…and then some. They are good friends and helpful neighbors…and then some.
They can be counted on in an emergency…and then some…
I am thankful for people like this, for they make the world more livable.
Their spirit of service is summed up in three little words…


Action:  Ask yourself these questions. Have you ever under-promised and over-delivered? What were the results? And what are two ways you could under-promise and over-deliver in your job? I invite you to give it a try this week.