Why you should stop going “over and above” for clients

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If the goal of business is to identify what the client needs — and deliver it — why, then, do we think this is going “over and above”? Going over and above means to go beyond a normal amount. But what is normal? And whose measuring stick are we using?

Is it going over and above if you personally deliver something to your client because they are at home  with their newborn baby? Is it going over and above if you send them birthday cards, or deliver a gift to them when you complete that sale?  Is it going over and above if the client needs more time than others in order to make the decision that is right for them? 

When we look at our actions as going over and above, we lose sight of the fact that what we are really doing is listening to our clients, delivering what is necessary and then creating a memorable experience. And isn’t that was customer service is? Shouldn’t that be a normal part of how we do our business?

If you are looking for ways to set yourself apart and create an exceptional experience for your client, here are a few things to consider.

  1. Listen to what’s not being said.

Listening is one of the most important communication skills. When you actively listen, you are not only paying attention to what is being said, but also to what isn’t. What is the unique situation your client is experiencing? What obstacles will they face along the way? When you can identify hidden pain points, you can deliver solutions that will not only help the client, but will also help you create an exceptional experience.

  1. Redefine your measuring stick.

Your clients are the benchmark for whether you did a job well. It’s not about your expectations or even those of your past clients. It’s about the client you are working with now and what matters to them. Work with your client from the beginning to establish what the expectations are, and then find creative and meaningful ways of delivering on them.

  1. Deliver the unexpected.

If you really want to create a memorable experience for your clients, then deliver a bit of the unexpected. The only person who can say you went “over and above” is the client. Think outside of the box, and aim to meet their needs — and then provide a little something extra.

  1. Ask for feedback. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of things. And when you have been running your business for a while, things become second nature. Be sure you are taking time to ask for feedback and doing frequent check-ins with your clients. This way you know you are staying on track.

  1. Create a lasting relationship.

Just because the sale is done doesn’t mean your job is over. Create systems for staying in touch so that you can continue to deliver a memorable experience well beyond closing day. Taking the time to nurture the relationship you have created is the key to creating a client for life.

Instead of thinking of taking these steps as going “over and above,” consider those measures a standard part of business. Create an exceptional client experience by going truly beyond the call of duty.

Originally published by Michelle Risi in Forbes.