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The Thrill of Exceeding Expectations

Exceeding other’s expectations is a universally recognized gift. Its value grows exponentially when you expect nothing in return.

The happiest and most successful people I know, regardless of their station in life, have developed the habit of constantly exceeding the expectations of others. Let’s take a look at how exceeding expectations can become the secret fuel driving your career, life, and happiness in the new year. It can also become a power engine pulling your entire company to a higher level of success.

How is it Done?
First, it all begins with a with a desire to do something for someone else that’s a little extraordinary. It requires thinking on your feet, reading the situation, and discovering a little something extra you can do to delight the person you’re with. Exceeding someone’s expectation does take effort. But within three attempts, I’ll bet you’ll clearly see the dividends you receive are well worth the effort.

On a service call, you can exceed your customer’s expectations by detecting the source of an irritating vibration noise in their HVAC equipment while swapping out a capacitor. You eliminate that noise by tightening a couple screws. On the way out the door, tell your customer how easy it was to fix that annoying noise and there’s no charge for their newfound peace and quiet.

It’s just a little thing, but it surprises the customer and, more importantly, it creates a connection with your customer. You gave them a little personal, unexpected gift --just because you wanted to.

Exceeding other’s expectations is a universally recognized gift. Its value grows exponentially when you expect nothing in return. Nearly all good, average, or even bad people can’t help but notice and respond to such a gift. It is the foundation of good business, personal relationships, and family harmony.

Make it Real on Sales Calls
The number one reason repeat sales fail to happen, is because sales people over-promise and under- deliver. Way too many salespeople act like politicians. They have little real value to offer, so they promise the moon to their customer, just to get a quick sale. When the job is done, the promises remain unfulfilled and the relationship is broken.

Salespeople and companies in the habit of exceeding expectations, offer solid products and services and can deliver the goods they promise. They also are careful to promise less than what they know they can deliver, planning to thrill their customer with added benefits at the end of the job.

It’s a matter of timing. Make promises up front and customers expect it. Keep some solutions in your pocket and you will astonish them with the extra value. It’s real, honest, and it works every time. It is the way you make customers for life.

During an Installation
Installers, if you haven’t developed this habit of going the extra mile yet, it may feel a little fake at first, like you’re trying too hard. I invite you to elevate yourselves and become a gracious and memorable part of the job. I can barely hold my tongue when I hear someone say, “I’m just an installer.” You are in a front-and-center role during the job, because you can have the most interaction with your customers than anyone else. Take ownership of your customers and your project. Deliver a memorable outcome. Yes, installers may be in the best position to exceed customers’ expectations.

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Do things in a way that lets customers know you care about them. Take the time to make things better.

During a typical installation, even though your have a defined scope of work, there are usually several decisions to be made where you can improve on or increase your customer’s satisfaction.

Customers may forget exactly what you said and did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. Do things in a way that lets them know you care about them. Take the time to make things better.

Around the Shop and Office
By now, I hope you’re seeing that whatever your role is in the company, you can exceed the expectations of those around you regularly. Look for these opportunities and act on them. You will delight those who associate with you. You’ll be surprised how quickly others will begin to mimic your actions by taking the time and expending the effort to treat you in the same way.

Great companies build this culture from the bottom-up and from the top-down. Culture in a company is best described as “How things are done here.” Usually, this culture can be traced back to one or two people who infected everyone else by their habit of delivering just a little bit more than what was expected.

These are the people who overcome the temptation of ignoring a complaint when a problem arises. These folks study recurring problems carefully until they find a better way to resolve them. That usually means they eliminate the cause.

So look for and recognize these people around the shop. Recognition isn’t why they contribute, but an expression of appreciation from you for what they do. It encourages a growing exceptional culture in a place where most of us spend too many hours.   

At Home
If you only apply this “extra-mile” principle at work, it may appear your efforts are aimed only at making a few extra bucks and getting a promotion. This is probably not the true spirit of delighting other people.  

To be genuine, adopt this habit outside of your career: in your relationships and at home. The 20 minutes a day you invest in planning and doing little things to thrill others will pay you back almost immediately. It pays dividends to those you serve, but more importantly, it pays you back by enriching your life and lifting you to a higher level.

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute, Inc., an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. You can contact Doc at [email protected] or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at for free information, articles, and downloads.

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