Friday, May 6, 2011

Five Tips to Surprise and Delight Customers

by Dede Henley

In our leadership development consulting firm, we frequently have conversations about how we might “surprise and delight” our clients. It’s a fun conversation to have – to think about what would be a great surprise for our sophisticated clients. Recently, I had an experience of being delighted by great customer service.

I am still knee-deep in The Carly Henley Project, fulfilling on promises made to our contributors on We promised to produce CDs, t-shirts, and a video, among other things. Over the past six months, we have had a great team of people working to create these deliverables — all except for the video.

I couldn’t get my arms around it. We had hundreds of hours of video and thousands of photos. Sorting through it all and choosing the best to include on a DVD seemed overwhelming.

This is where Molly Bullard of Seattle Photo Organizing came in. After my initial request for her help, she provided me with three options for working together. But after listening further to my needs, she referred me to a competitor, Scan My Photos. I had over 4,000 photos, and they provide volume scanning at a low price. Molly heard my need and figured out how to meet it. Wow!

But Molly didn’t stop there. She checked back with me about two weeks later, wanting to know how the scanned photos turned out. This delighted me, because I had given my business to another service provider, yet she wasn’t disappointed — she was interested in my experience of their service!

She wanted to know if I needed further help with the project. We didn’t. But when our video project fell through about a month later, I was surprised and delighted to receive yet another gracious message from Molly Bullard. She was just checking in on the project. She had ideas about how to do the video fast and inexpensively. I hired her and she has delivered a wonderful video that we can share with our friends and family.

So, what I have I learned from Molly about extraordinary service?

1. Be helpful — even if there's no immediate profit in it. Take the long view; things change and opportunities open when you least expect it. Don’t be disappointed when one opportunity goes away. There may be others.

2. Really care about the people you serve. This can provide the sustained motivation to stay connected, even when there doesn’t seem to be an immediate need for your product or service.

3. Stay in touch in generous, light-hearted, and creative ways. This helps people to remember you are there and ready to serve.

4. Listen. Molly listened to my story of what the project was for and why it mattered to all of us. She got it all.

5. Give more than is expected. Molly has worked side-by-side with me to minimize the cost of the video. She has been generous with her time and her talent.

Surprising and delighting customers is not only good business, it feels good and can lead to surprising, delightful, and unexpected results—such as this post, which could lead many new customers directly to Molly’s door.

Who could you surprise and delight this week?

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