Anytime you're asking sometime to pay you money, they think there's risk. How do you go above and beyond to show your minimizing that persons risk? You do this with planning. You build under promising and over delivering directly into your marketing or customer service strategy.

First let's define what it means to under promise and over deliver with an example from an online retailer of headsets named Headsets.com:

On their website, they say they have a 2-hour guarantee call back time for customer support issues. When a customer submits a request for a call, the customer assumes that call will come within 2 hours. However, on the backend, Headsets.com's customer support team actually plans for a 1-hour guarantee call back time. No matter what, they're always surprising and delighting customers (even angry ones) by exceeding expectations and calling them earlier than the customer anticipated.

Very quickly, let's define the opposite of under promising and over delivering:

Any cable (or service) company ever that's said: "We'll arrive between the hours of 11am and 4pm." Oh, and then they arrive late at 4:30pm.

In those two examples, I'm guessing you know which scenario is the right one to follow.

When it comes to selling something, customers and clients want to know exactly what they're getting. It's your job to show them the tangible benefits, but it's also in your best interest to keep a couple extra benefits in your back pocket. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you can build a "wow" factor with extra perks, you'll have much happier clients.

Here are four simple things you can plan to do to exceed your customers/clients expectations:

1. Include a handwritten thank you note.

This seems like a lost idea in the digital world we live in. However, getting (good) physical mail is still one of the most enjoyable things for people. It costs about $0.10 for a postcard and $0.34 for a stamp. For $0.44 and one minute of your time, you can create an incredibly happy customer by surprising them with a handwritten note.

2. Make your receipts better.

Too often we buy things online and we get crappy receipts emailed to us. By sending someone an email, you're penatrating their sacred inboxes and you should relish that opportunity. Plus, people rarely delete a receipt without looking it, that's more than can be said for any marketing email. Can you add a personalized photo from the founder of your company? What about a funny animated GIF (if something like that aligns with your company's values)? Or, maybe you can offer a discount code on their next purchase, or one they could send to a friend? Get creative and plan to surprise someone instead of just sending a plain-old receipt.

3. Promise your customers/clients XYZ, but keep ABC as your secret weapon.

You have five services you're delivering to them, but maybe there's a sixth service you can throw in after the fact and not tell them about it? An example would be: You sell sponsorships for a conference. Each sponsor gets booth space, a logo on the website, a logo on the conference name tags, a log on the conference t-shirts, and time on stage to address the audience. But, you also probably have a conference website and email list where you can shout out your sponsors. Surprise them by sharing their company on those places (without adding it the list of initial deliverables). You don't have to get wildly creative to surprise people, you just need to exceed their expectations.

4. Randomly refund a customer.

I know this sounds crazy, but depending on what product or service you sell, I'm willing to bet if you refunded a couple people a month or a quarter, it wouldn't affect your bottom line. You could even email the customer and offer to refund them, pay their purchase forward to a friend, or donate that money to a charity of choice. Either way, that refund email to your customer could become a great piece of word of mouth marketing. And, you should always focus on customer retention before customer acquisition!

The trick with any of these tips is to build them into your business and marketing strategy. Don't wait to do them as an afterthought. Have them planned and ready to execute. You'd be surprised how much less marketing and advertising you'd have to do when you start surprising and delighting your customers/clients.

Take some time today to think about your plan to under promise and over deliver!

Published on: Sep 25, 2014