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I’m 90 percent sure that you’ll never disappoint your customers if you do this

People are complicated. Our personal interactions are probably one of our most difficult daily activities. Have you ever thought that your customers would feel a certain way about your service, only for them to say that they had a negative experience? Have you found yourself in a difficult social interaction where you were walking close to an emotional landmine and were on the verge of triggering an angry customer response?

If so, keep reading. I wrote this post with these experiences in mind.

A Concert with 19,000 people and High Expectations

I don’t usually go to concerts, but last weekend I attended the best one of my life. The concert didn’t start out that way, initially, it was an incredibly negative experience.

When we showed up to the concert a record number of people were in attendance, and a half-hour before it started we were greeted by a line of 10,000 people standing outside waiting to get in.

Can you imagine what it would feel like if you went to a concert and you were behind a line this long an hour before the concert was supposed to start? We missed the opener and had to listen to it as we stood outside of the gates.

It was a management disaster and nightmare. I knew that the band (AJR) wouldn’t start before everyone made it through the gates, but people were getting antsy. The 85-degree sun beamed down on us as we watched people slowly inch their way through the line that snaked around the parking lot. Other impatient concertgoers began to cut in front of others, much to the chagrin of people at the front. Some verbal altercations broke out as people began to lose their civility and shout at others.

The angriest patrons walked to the box office and demanded refunds. It was obvious with the staffing shortages that the venue was experiencing that they hadn’t adequately prepared the staff for the ensuing brouhaha.

An hour after we arrived, police officers jumped to the front of the line to provide additional security checkpoints at the gate and funnel everyone in. This helped speed up the process, and after another half hour passed it looked like we were just about to make it into the grounds of Usana Amphitheater.

I didn’t outwardly show it, but inside was getting pretty damn impatient. Everything about the situation was highly unusual. In the past, I had arrived at a concert and had gotten inside after a brief ten-minute wait. This wouldn't be the case tonight. We hadn’t missed the main act, but at this point, I didn’t really even want to be at the concert. It felt like a total letdown.

What happened next, however, would change my entire experience.

Background image of stage in color lights

A Showstopper that Stole the Show

After the long wait, we were finally inside the venue standing behind a sea of people. There were 19,000 people in attendance, enough to entirely fill an NBA basketball stadium.

AJR began to play, delivering beautiful acoustic renditions of their most popular hits on the piano. AJR's performances are always very theatrical, complete with light effects and a montage of self-produced videos that skillfully immerse the audience in their performance.

I started following AJR back in 2017 when the band was on the cusp of becoming a chart-topping sensation. Their music has always been very relatable and it speaks to the challenges that ordinary people face as they navigate growing up and struggle to be recognized for their hard work.

Throughout the night the musical trio of brothers did four things that are worthy of highlighting:


  1. They told a hilarious and personal story about the first time that they met the musical legend, Elton John, at the American Music Awards. When Elton John met them, he mistook them for another band with a similar name. Recognizing the mistake, he apologized, and the band had a good laugh.


  1. The band took 20 minutes onstage to show the audience their eclectic and unconventional process of how they create music. AJR makes music in their living room, and they walked us through the inspirations that they used to create behind the chart-topping single “Weak”. They showed us how they watched movies, experimented with different drum beats, and even got one of their sounds from the neighbor’s baby next door that wouldn’t stop crying. They took all of these sounds and tailored them to create their hit single.


  1. At every concert, AJR highlights certain people in the audience that stand out to them. These people are invited up on the stage and they get to say something to the crowd. 


  1. At the end of the concert, the lead singer, Dr. Adam Mett (yes, he has a PhD, the band is full of surprises) opened up about his mental health struggles and had the audience press a button that helped him and his brothers escape from an artificial tank of water representing the roadblocks they have faced, that was superimposed upon the band members. They were able to swim free and walk off into a sunset illuminated at the back of the stage before the credits rolled.


Wow! The concert was amazing. I’m still watching the videos that I recorded of it days later.

But what does this all have to do with providing outstanding customer service?

 Portrait of happy girl with dog lying on rug while mother relaxing at home

Always Exceed Expectations to Delight Your Customers

Your customers are primed with certain expectations before you arrive. Oftentimes, these expectations are different than what you think they want. The differences between your customer's expectations and your intentions can create friction if they aren't properly managed.

Your customers don’t see you on a regular basis, and they might not be used to having their carpets cleaned or homes dried after a flood. Despite this, they have particular expectations in their mind about what this experience will be like. This is true for all of us. To expect something is human. Whenever we buy something we all have an idea of what we are paying for. These baseline expectations inform how we judge and interpret our experiences.

When I went to the concert, I did not think that we would have to wait in line for hours to get in. This experience did not meet my expectations of what a typical concert experience is normally like that. Because my expectations were not met, I was disappointed. I had a bad experience at this point because I wasn’t getting what I paid for.

This quickly changed during the concert. When I saw AJR perform, I got more than I paid for. They gave me extra. The band didn’t just perform their songs as expected, they were also incredibly personable, played variations of their songs, told personal stories to the audience, and were refreshingly personable about how they created their music.

Let’s see how this maps out for your business.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Exceed Your Customer’s Expectations

  1. Remember that all of your customers inevitably bring expectations to their buying experience. There is not much that you can do to change your customers' expectations before they meet you because they are already predetermined. To be human is to have expectations. The best thing that you can do is to understand these expectations before you get to work. First, you need to understand what your customers hope to get from your visit.


  1. Have a plan in place to meet these expectations
    Your customers’ baseline expectations are the minimum viable product or service that you can offer for them to be satisfied. In other words, you need to do these things at a minimum in order for them to feel satisfied and justify them using their service. However, this is a low bar to aim for. Meeting these expectations is delivering what you advertised and giving somebody what they paid for. If your customers paid to get their carpets cleaned, you clean their carpets and remove stains.


  1. Customers have unspoken expectations that they often can’t put into words

    This is the hard part: customers have expectations and concerns that are hard to vocalize because they are embedded in their subconscious. It’s hard for them to put these things into words because people don’t usually know what they want or don’t have the vocabulary or communication skills to adequately relay these expectations. It’s your job to understand what these things are so that you can exceed their expectations. You do this by providing something extra. This is what it means to provide an elite level of customer service.


  1. Provide your customers with extra

    After waiting in line for hours in line at the concert to get in, I thought that the night was ruined. I didn’t think that there was anything that could make my experience feel better. However, just like I mentioned above, AJR had the perfect solution. They were able to make the experience better by providing extra. By doing this, they changed my psychological perception of the entire night.

    You can do this too. You can psychologically change how your customers perceive your service. *Note that when I say this, I’m not talking about manipulation, I’m talking about tapping into unmet desires or needs that haven’t been vocalized.*

    As a business owner, you are the expert positioned to identify what your customers’ expectations are, but in order to do this you have to dig deep, you can’t just guess or make assumptions. You have to truly understand your audiences’ expectations and empathize with them. Good marketing and customer service is an intensive exercise in empathy.

    Perhaps your customers struggle with their carpet staining after you leave because they have kids that frequently spill juice. You know that protectors would work well in this situation, so instead of upselling a protector, you build it into the price of your business model. This way, your customers are able to get the results that you want but aren’t able to vocalize. You can seamlessly meet your customers' expectations by anticipating their concerns and addressing them before they become a problem.


  1. At the end of the day, your customers feel like what they get is what they see

You want to make your work as visual as possible. A picture isn’t just worth 1,000 words, in the buying experience it’s everything. We are judged based on our interactions. Friendliness, smiling, punctuality, answering questions, providing aftercare instructions, having a robust website, etc., are the things that your customers see.

These subtle and overt cues prime your customers for the experience that they will have. When you communicate with your customers, you are actually having a dialogue with their expectations. If you do this correctly and honestly, you can influence their expectations and engineer a positive experience.

This is what AJR did at their concert. AJR influenced the audience by being transparent and showing fans that they are part of their music; they made everyone in attendance feel like they were a part of their family by sharing stories and actively involving us in the experience.


Happy family walking an pointing away - isolated over white background


Your customers are your audience. Understand their expectations and deliver on them. Go out of your way to meet their unspoken expectations. Give them something extra that they can hang on to. If you do this, it’s going to be next to impossible to disappoint them. Your customers will love you for it, you will build trust, and they will keep using your service.

Remember that we don’t always know what we want. Business is transactional but it’s also relational. This is a difficult tension to navigate. Make sure to deliver on what you promised but also give extra.

Be like AJR. By handling complaints and disappointment with a stroke of expertise and mastery your customers will always be satisfied.


Read More Articles About Customer Service

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I Interviewed Successful Carpet Cleaning and Restoration Companies and they’re Doing These 15 Things to Dominate their Markets

How to Provide a Perpetually Good Experience for Your Customer long after your Visit is Over

Deborah Sanscraint Reveals Her Secret Formula for Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

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