I heard a great quote the other day: “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile”.
Whilst every business I have ever encountered claims to go the extra mile, we all know that in reality very few businesses actually do it. They try hard, sure, but they try hard without going a mile beyond what we expect.
So, why does this happen and what can we do to ensure we’re truly going the extra mile?
The extra mile: I can’t or I won’t?
I have found that there’s some confusion with the words can’t and won’t. People often say they can’t do something, when what they really mean is that they won’t.
Here’s the thing: When a service provider tells a customer [and themselves], that they can’t do something extra, they end the possibility of it happening. Can’t is a dead end. It can’t be done. That’s it.
Here’s an alternative approach, which can help you retain your clients and attract massively more referrals too.
The extra mile: An opportunity to disappoint or to shine
Think about it: When a restaurant stops serving at 2:30pm and you arrive at 2:33pm, to be told they can’t serve you, what they really mean is that they won’t serve you. They can serve you. However, they’ve chosen not to serve you… not to go the extra mile. By pointing to a sign that says they stop serving food at 2:30pm, the service provider has an excuse not to try.
You leave disappointed.
Of course, the best service providers would use that same situation as an opportunity to go a mile beyond what you expected of them. They’d explain that it’s a few minutes after they stop serving, but that they will make an exception for you. In doing so, they would have delivered a great customer experience story, for you to share with your friends.
The lesson here?
Before you tell a client or prospective client that you can’t do what they want, ask yourself if what you really mean, is that you won’t do what they want.
Now, if they are being totally unreasonable or selfishly trying to get you to work for free etc., you shouldn’t allow them to abuse your good nature.
However, if what you are being asked is something you can do and you believe they are sincere, you have a decision to make. You can do what they expect and refuse. Alternatively, you can be one of the rare few, who actually goes the extra mile. You can build stronger, deeper bonds with your clients.
Plus… you can give your marketplace a story about your business, worth sharing.