above and beyond

Beyond Showing Up

Last week, I headed off to the grocery store. It was a rather dreary day where everyone sort of had that weather related scowl on their face. As I walked in the store, I was greeted with a lovely smile and positive energy by Janice, one of the employees. Her smile was contagious and immediately changed my entire energy. As I shopped around the store, I kept smiling and thinking to myself, "wow, she really is a great brand ambassador with that kind of energy."

As I rolled my cart to the checkout, again Janice greeted me and helped me load the contents of my cart onto the counter. As we put the last item on, she handed me a bouquet of flowers, to which I replied "Thank you ma'am, but those weren't mine." Once again, Janice greeted me with her warm smile and replied, "Everyone needs a little sunshine in their day! They're from me to you!" 

I was floored. So much so, that I sent my fiance this photo as I wheeled my cart back out to the parking lot. In that small moment, Janice shifted my entire day. It wasn't what she said or did (although both were undeniably charming), it was what she did that was beyond my expectation. She surprised and delighted. She did more than just show up. Nothing that she did fell into Janice's job description, but her action that exceeded my expectations ensured my continued business. 

One of my favorite blog posts of all time is Beyond Showing Up by Seth Godin because he explains that merely showing up isn't enough anymore. It isn't enough to meet expectations, you must exceed them. Think about that for a moment. When you go to a deli and order a sandwich, it is your expectation that after a few minutes - the person behind the counter will slide over a sandwich. Sure, the taste may exceed your expectations. The service may delight you. The price might even make you want to come back. But what if you ordered a sandwich and nothing ever crossed the counter? That is the equivalent to a homebuyer or seller utilizing you and you not helping them buy or sell a home. Getting to the closing table doesn't exceed expectations. You're merely delivering the sandwich at that point. There is so much more that goes into exceeding expectations! 

Sure, half the battle is showing up, but you realize that is only half  the battle, right? You still must "surprise and delight" as Seth puts it. You still must prove the reason why they chose you. Why they love you. Why you matter beyond your presence. When we spend our days merely meeting expectations by closing transactions, we are doing nothing to ensure our growth or customer satisfaction.

What is funny about us as professionals is that we spend countless hours and thousands (maybe millions) of dollars seeking how to set ourselves apart when the answer is right in front of us. In fact, the answer is us! It is you. Your actions are what set you apart - not some shiny object or fancy software. Your ability to connect as a human. Your ability to surprise and to delight. Your ability to overdeliver. 

I ask you, how are you working to surprise and delight your customers each day? Are you leaving an impact? Are you meeting expectations or exceeding them? If you step back and look at your business, I think you will find that surprising and delighting your consumers is much easier than you think.