Exceeding Your Customers’ Expectations? Why Bother??

Let’s be honest. Most people’s paychecks will be exactly the same whether they meet or exceed their customers’ expectations. Unless you work for one of those rare companies that provide financial incentives to go above and beyond, why go through the trouble of doing more? Seriously, doing more requires more effort, and more effort requires more time. So, my question is, why bother? The answer may be found in how you view your work. Is it a job, a career or a calling? As we will see, the way you perceive your work has a major impact on whether you “bother” to exceed expectations or not.

Job. Career. Calling.

In Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, he referred to a study that was done by one of his research colleagues. The study was focused on how people viewed work. It turns out that they either viewed work as a job, a career or a calling. Those who view work as a job, primarily see working as a way to pay bills. They rarely do more than the bare minimum. Those who view work as a career have a bit more vested interest, and aspire to have longevity via job promotions, transfers, etc. Finally, those who view work as a calling find intrinsic value in what they do. Their work is genuinely meaningful, and their pay is the proverbial “icing on the cake”. There are doctors and lawyers who may view their work as a job, while there are housekeepers and truck drivers who see their work as a calling (and the opposite is also true of course).

Imagine two groups of administrative assistants who have the same experience, same education, and same supervisor. One group views their work as a job, while the other group sees it as a calling. The assistants, who see their work as “just a job” will do the bare minimum. In fact, anything above the bare minimum will be viewed as a chore. Any question or request will be perceived as an interruption of their day. Those assistants will complain when they receive “too many” emails or phone calls.

On the contrary, the administrative assistants who view their work as a calling will happily and eagerly look for opportunities to exceed expectations. They won’t complain when they are busy. In fact, they will be happy when they are busy. The ringing phones and constant emails mean that their job is relevant and important. After all, if there are no customers, then why would their jobs exist? Most importantly, they are grateful because they have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s day…everyday.

Molé (pronounced MOH-lay)

On a recent trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, I was fortunate to visit a Mexican restaurant called The Red Iguana. The food was amazing and the service was equally impressive. One of the highlights occurred a short while after I was seated. The server welcomed me, introduced himself, then asked if it was my first trip to the restaurant. When I said yes, he welcomed me again, and explained some of the history and key features of the restaurant including their world famous molé sauce. He then told me about the various types of molé sauce and offered to bring samples of the sauces for me to try. I instantly fell in love with the sauce, and bought a pint to take home with me.

The server could have easily (and with much less effort), just taken my food order, and proceeded with merely meeting my expectations. My lunch experience could have been “just another meal” on “just another business trip”.  As we know, however, memorable service experiences are not created by people who meet expectations. They are created by people who exceed them.

Our original question was, “Why bother to exceed expectations?” The short answer is that for those who view their work as a calling, exceeding is not really a bother at all. It is an honor…rather a privilege to be of service.  Some people mistakenly believe that exceeding expectations is a gradual step up from meeting expectations. It is not. They are actually two…different…things. If you want to exceed, then you must intentionally think of ways to exceed. So, while your pay may be the same, the service you provide will be memorable, and the innate joy you experience will be priceless.

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