A simple surprise


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One of the easiest and most effective ways to win your customers is to surprise them. No, not by jumping out from behind a fixture and yelling, “Boo!” That does surprise them, but it also might give one of them a heart attack. That’s bad for business.

I’m talking about surprising your customer by doing something nice that they didn’t expect. Since the customer has zero expectations the surprise is a huge WOW that makes a lasting impression. That’s good for business.

Some employees are very good at surprising their customer, but the best companies make it part of their overall experience/service strategy. It’s also part of the job expectations.

Wouldn’t it be great if an associate had both a sales goal and a surprise/wow goal? Now the staff would be looking much harder for ways to surprise their customers.

What are some ways the staff can surprise a customer? I’m sure you see plenty examples from your staff every day. Things like:

* Offering the customer a drink or something to eat.

* Entertaining a customer’s children.

* Getting a chair so your customer can sit down.

* Calling a competitor’s store to see if they have a product in stock.

* Offering to call the customer when something comes in.

* Asking if he/she can carry a purchase to the customer’s car.

* Sending a thank you card.

* Walking from behind the counter to hand the customer their purchase.

You’re probably thinking that the items on this list aren’t a big deal. You might be wondering if these actions really do surprise your customer. I think they do. Remember, the staff at most stores don’t take many of these actions that you do for your customers every day. They are a simple but pleasant surprise for shoppers when they encounter them in your business.

But don’t stop there. There are opportunities to raise the bar and find even more distinct and personalized ways to surprise your customers. A few examples I’ve seen include:

* Offering to pay a customer’s parking or add money to their meter.

* Leaving the store to purchase a customer’s favorite drink.

* Sending a follow-up card or note card based on something the customer said.

* Clearing snow off customer cars in the parking lot.

This list is just a starting place. If – and only if – the company makes it a priority, a dynamic and customer-focused team will find many more special and fun ways to surprise their customers and exceed their expectations.

So let me ask, is your team using simple surprises to win customers and maximize opportunities?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


  1. Fundamentally this is about empowerment of staff. Many leading customer service organizations (Ritz Carlton, Zappos, Hampton) have realized that devolving decision making authority to your customer facing staff and giving staff the authority to resolve problems on the spot can transform customer relationships.

    You can read more about this here:

  2. Thank you Travis for your comments. And you’re right. The bar is set pretty low, but each time we raise the bar for the customer they have new expectations. That’s why we need to make the experience and simple surprises a daily goal. Thanks again.

    Doug Fleener


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