Alright, so we’re back this week after ending our last series, “Client Upset About An Employee’s Mistake? – Here’s How to Handle It.” And as I like to connect the dots from one week to the next and spice things up from time to time, I thought this week I’d talk about going above and beyond. As well, we did so much of it in our client recovery plan the last few weeks, plus I thought I’d share a couple of book recommendations on the topic if you wanted a further study.
It’s Risky to Not Go Above & Beyond When Fixing Mistakes
Alright so throughout our employee mistake series we saw an awful lot of ways to go that extra mile when fixing our problem and creating our solution. We even created a list of what we did do (by going above and beyond) rather than what we could have done (which would have just been doing the minimal amount). Here’s some of it:
- Rather than sending a picture of the tile to the client once it was in possession and also confirming it in person, we could have just picked it up and dropped it off, leaving the client anxious and worried
- Rather than dropping it off at the client’s home the night before to ensure that the layer would have the tile as soon as he arrived, we could have just dropped it off sometime the next morning and hoped we got there before he did
- Rather than rearranging our schedule to let the layer in to the client’s home each morning, we could have asked the client to stay back from work for a little while to do so
And the list actually goes on of what we did. We repeatedly just went above and beyond, almost to the point of being exhaustive. Now why? Well, in this case it was because our firm had made a mistake, and a big one. Therefore, to counter a big mistake, we had to create an equally big gesture to regain the client’s trust and love for us and our firm. We essentially had to put the experience back in balance (or even just back to neutral) by completely going out of our way, rather than letting it remain overwhelmingly negative.
It was an overall monster of an effort to show the client, yes we did make a mistake, but we recognize it, own it, and are making it our top priority to make it right for you right away. If you don’t make that monster of an effort though and do just what’s necessary? Well, that’s a very, very risky move.
Don’t Exhaust Yourself Going Above & Beyond Daily
Ok so going above and beyond when we make a mistake is obvious. But what about when everything is going along just fine? What do we do when we haven’t made a mistake and everything is actually just going along beautifully? Well then you still go above and beyond, just in ways that aren’t life altering to you.
In our above situation where a huge mistake was made, we had to put a total stop on our daily routine to fix the client’s problem. We were rearranging schedules, duties, and focuses, all in the effort to make this thing happen asap. So when there’s no issue to handle, we certainly don’t need to do that when we’re going above and beyond (unless there’s a special occasion or great surprise you’re trying to pull off for your client). Actually we absolutely don’t want to do that on the regular as well, you wouldn’t have much time left for running your business, plus it would seem a bit odd to your client.
What you do want to do though, is make going above and beyond in smaller ways, an everyday occurrence. You want to look for opportunities to just do that little bit extra, and go for it. It doesn’t always have to be show stopping and it doesn’t always have to be something that knocks the clients’ socks completely off. It just has to be something that stops the client for a moment, and makes them simply think, “wow.”
It can mean picking up their favorite coffee on the way to your meeting when they shared that their coffee maker broke that morning. It can mean having a plumber whose already at the house fix the toilet in another bathroom that you know has been broken for awhile (ask the client first though if this is ok). It can mean sending a bottle of champagne (extra points if you know their favorite kind) to the client when you know they’re having a big wedding anniversary.
It can mean picking up the newspaper on your walk into the house for an elderly client who has a hard time reaching the end of the driveway safely in cold weather, and then asking them if it’s ok for you to get their mail as well. It can mean sending a “Get Well Soon” card to a client whose been feeling under the weather lately or dropping off a few frozen meals that you’ve put together for them (preferably not homemade but rather purchased somewhere such as a meal prep store – the same can be done for clients who’ve just had a baby). It can be so many simple, small things but to the client, it’s anything but simple or small. It’s memorable, and meaningful.
Train Yourself to See Opportunities
The trick of it is though, sometimes seeing the opportunities of where you can go above and beyond. You want to go above and beyond. You want to surprise and delight the client. You want to make their time and experience with you just phenomenal. The challenge is just training your eye and mind to see the opportunities that are sitting right in front of you.
So, how do you get better at it? How do you help yourself see ways to go above and beyond? Well, first you want to really focus on any problem that your client shares, or that you see. You want to listen for something that the client has issues with or grievances about, and it doesn’t always have to be something directly related to interior design. Sometimes it can even be completely outside the realm of what you typically do. You note it, either in your mind or on paper (preferably on paper) and then when you have a free moment you think, what one extra step can I take? And then you take action.
Here’s what that could look like. Let’s say the client mentions that they’re upset because they just stained their beloved winter coat. So after your meeting you call your favorite dry cleaner in the area and ask if they could pick up and clean a clients’ winter coat (having a favorite dry cleaner, or a few, is a great idea for getting clients’ linens pressed, cleaned, etc.). The dry cleaner says yes of course, you call the client to let them know and ask for the best time for pick up, and their jaw drops with just how amazing you are.
Or, let’s say it’s install day and you notice that some of the art already hung in the space is hanging a bit cattywampus. You have little rubber feet to put on the art that’ll be hung in the space that day, and seeing as you have extra, you call the client to ask if it’s ok to add these to the pieces that they already have. They say “oh my gosh, thank you! yes that’s ok!” and you put them on and realign the pieces. Two minutes of effort and pennies in terms of cost, and you have a client whose flabbergasted with just how helpful and amazing you are. At the end of the install you have about 20 rubber pads left. You leave them for the client with a note saying, “These are all yours just in case there’s something else you’d like to place them on!” Now you’ve not only taken one extra step, but two, and your client is again floored, by something so simple.
Going above and beyond doesn’t mean doing ridiculously crazy and creative things all day and every day. So often it’s actually the little things that add up to so much. It’s the ways that we show clients “I care about you. I listen to you. I pay attention to you. I’m here to help you.” It’s the noticing of their need, and taking it upon yourself to do something about it. And that’s really all that clients want out of their experience. To be heard, to be cared for, to be respected, and to be considered. Going above and beyond is one of the greatest ways to do that. It does take time, it does take training yourself to see the ways that you can, but it is possible.
Study Above & Beyond Actions, in Order to Provide Above & Beyond Actions
And if you need to see it in action, treat every interaction you personally have as a customer, as above and beyond lessons. Each time you interact with a business, take a moment at the end and think to yourself, did they take that extra step with me? What was it? How did I feel? How can I translate that to interior design?
Or, glean your ideas from customer service and experience books. A great place to start is the Fred Factor which is based on the inspirational true story of a mailman who made going above and beyond part of his every day life. It’s a quick, easy, and fantastic read and I highly recommend it. And, much to my excitement I just found out that there is a follow up as well, which is Fred Factor 2.0. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m pumped for when I do! No doubt it’s full of gold.
Opportunities Really Are All Around
So as you go about your day, either as a customer, or a service provider, look for those above and beyond opportunities. Look for when they were found and fulfilled, and look for when they were missed and left empty. And when you talk to your clients, listen for any small issues that they note. Make a list. Ask yourself, is there anyway that I can help?
Or when you’re in their home, look around and see if there’s anything amiss that you can help with in the moment (but get permission first if it will alter or have any possibility of damaging something). Is there a pillow that’s stained that you could send for a cleaning? Or a table leg that’s wobbly that could quickly be fixed by a tradesmen with a screwdriver ? Or what about chairs that don’t smoothly move across the floor (and may even scratch) because there weren’t any glides put on? All of those are fantastic opportunities to show your clients just how much you care.
And that’s what the extra mile is about., showing that you care. Going above and beyond is really just a way to say yet one more time, “We appreciate your business. We care about you as people, and are extremely dedicated to making you happy. You’re not a transaction to us. You’re people who love their home, and are trusting us to take care of it.”
And remember, going above and beyond doesn’t have to be life altering, and it’s not just contained to when you’re fixing a mistake. It’s a day to day mindset of thinking, what else can I do? What one extra step can I take to notice a problem for a client, and help in fixing it? And as you do, that above and beyond muscle of yours will strengthen. It’ll get stronger, and stronger, and stronger until one day all you’ll see are opportunities. You’ll be able to notice the possibilities for going above and beyond, just like you see the possibilities for a space.
Let me know in the comments below, how do you like to go above and beyond? I’d love to know!
And if you’re for looking for more ways to serve your clients exceptionally well, then take a look at what we’ve got for you here!