Scott’s Thoughts: Delivering 110%

“If you make it an instinctive habit to deliver more value than was expected every time you are given money, then you will have more money than you need.”

-James Altucher, Investor, writer, and entrepreneur

Kid with a watering can, trying to grow himselv.“Delivering 110%” is one of those business cliches that gets thrown around a lot. Going above and beyond does make a difference, but seldom does it really happen. Even when we’re satisfied with service, it typically means our expectations were simply met, not exceeded in any meaningful way.

The art of exceeding expectations begins with two simple questions. It may seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how clarifying they can be:

  1. What is my client’s expectation?
  2. Is there a way to exceed that expectation?

First, do you really understand your client’s expectations? Sometimes we assume, but taking a moment to answer the question will help you define the parameters of the transaction. If you can’t answer it, how can you exceed it?

Second, consider what you can do to over-deliver. There are a variety of ways to exceed expectations. Discounts aren’t really a form of over-delivering, as they often devalue the core product or service you’re offering. It’s better to deliver in unanticipated and creative ways. Here are five ways to surprise and delight clients:

1. Deadlines: Manage expectations accordingly. If you’re dead certain you can get something back to a client by Thursday, tell them Friday. Setting the expectation on your own terms creates excellent opportunities to exceed them.

2. Zero/low-cost items: What do you have which costs you nothing (or very little) but may be perceived by your client as a valuable item or service?

3. Access to something: Once, I was working with a business associate who had backstage access to a major theme park. Out of the blue, he offered to get us in. Aside from the free tickets, we also had a chance to see what made the magic. Can you gift access to something which might normally be out of reach?

4. Connections & introductions: Playing the match maker in love can be a risky proposition, but in business it’s almost always a win. You might not be able to solve all of your clients’ problems, but you may know someone who can help. Making the connection shows you care, even when the relationship doesn’t pan out.

5. Astonishing memory: There’s a point at which your clients expect to be off your radar. Some even forget the name of the agent they’ve worked with in the past. If you take good notes while you’re working for them and set automatic reminders to check in, you will positively blow your clients’ minds when you reach out to them personally long after the deal is done. Don’t talk business… ask about the family, the house, or that special vacation spot they usually go to. Many will do this in the typical 5 − 7 year range, when they think the client may be thinking about moving again. Don’t wait so long. Check in at least yearly.

Finally, be humble about over-delivering. Don’t dwell on it. To amplify the value, make it seem effortless, and focus on the gratitude you feel for your client’s support. “My pleasure,” “No problem,” and “I’m glad you’re happy” will do just fine.

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