Have you noticed that exceeding your customers’ expectations does not necessarily make them more loyal to your brand than they would have been if you simply met their expectations?
For instance: you are a lawyer with a very busy schedule (work hours are 9am- 7:30pm, Saturdays inclusive). You really need a lovely yellow dress to attend a family function with your fiancé in two weeks. A friend referred you to designer XXX and so you contacted her and placed an order for a yellow dress, which she said would be ready in ten days. However, barely 7 days after, you received a package containing your dress from her…
Not only was the fit perfect, fabric quality was excellent, craftsmanship was excellent and neat, creativity was impressive and customer experience was easy and smooth. To say you were impressed and happy was a complete understatement! And just as you were still grinning from ear to ear and admiring yourself, you noticed there was still something else in the package she sent… Two yummy looking cupcakes and a hand written thank you note!
Now, imagine you had the same satisfactory experience (perfect fit, excellent fabric quality, excellent craftmanship, e.t.c) but there were no cupcakes only the handwritten thank you note. Would you have been any less impressed and satisfied? Did the cupcakes make you any more impressed, satisfied or loyal?
Your basic, most important need for a lovely, yellow dress with perfect fit delivered within twelve days was already satisfied. And infact you had already made up your mind to become an ‘apostle’ of the designer before you happened to notice she included two free cupcakes in the package. So obviously, the cupcakes did not make you any more loyal.
So, how far should you go to exceed your customers’ expectations? I would say “keep going as far as it does not result in any increase in your operating cost”.
Thus, take a break from incurring additional costs in order to exceed your customers’ expectations and just focus on meeting their expectations, because frankly, as small business owners, we need all the profit we make. I consider all those extra costs a waste of profit, because it yields no real benefit to your business.
Whether or not you spend the extra money, the customer would become an apostle because his/her expectations have been met so you might as well just save the cash and plough it back into your business.
In essence, customer loyalty is driven by satisfying the customers’ expectation not by exceeding the customers’ expectation. Customers are not any more loyal when you meet their expectations, than when you exceed their expectations.
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