What does it mean to go above and beyond?

Neil Patel, respected marketer and co-founder of KISSmetrics, says that going above and beyond involves making customers “feel special” and “helping them out even when it may not make sense.” Neil strongly believes that “putting your customers first will help you increase your revenue in the long run.”

Shep Hyken, customer service speaker, has his own take on it. Shep believes going above and beyond is “when a company delivers an over-the-top WOW level customer service experience.”

“My definition of above and beyond is when a company is just a little above average, all of the time.  That’s what the best companies do.  As a result, they deliver beyond their customers’ expectations,” said Shep.

So if above and beyond customer service involves helping customers feel special and creating an experience that WOWs, what are some strategies can you use to make it happen?

In this blog post, I’ll help you do just that. Learn six actionable strategies that some of the world’s leading companies use to deliver above and beyond customer service.


1. Zappos goes above and beyond by empowering employees through company culture.

Zappos is an online shoes and clothing retailer. The company is known for delivering amazing customer experiences; we’ve talked about them before.

One particular example of this outstanding service is a story of how a Zappos customer wanted to return some shoes, but her mom had recently passed away, and didn’t have the time. Long story short, Zappos arranged to have UPS come pick up her shoes, and the next day sent a beautiful basket of flowers.  Wow. Zappos, hat tip to you.

Key strategy and lesson:

The key takeaway here is to create a company culture that breeds these types of experiences. Zappos empowers their staff to go above and beyond by not enforcing things like call time tracking. This means that their customer service reps are empowered to spend a little bit more time with customers to make sure they feel special.

RelatedHow to leverage company culture to improve customer satisfaction


2. Specsavers goes above and beyond for the best interest of the customer.

Specsavers is a global retail chain that offers optician services, along with eyeglasses and contact lenses. The company holds the largest single market share of the four major opticians in UK (42%).

I recently purchased some contact lenses from the company and for one reason or another, mucked up the address that caused a delay in the order. I was running dangerously low on contact lenses and, as a result, of the delay, I would run out before my order arrived. Fortunately, I stopped by my local SpecSavers and the friendly assistant arranged a pair of contact lenses for me that I could use to hold me over. No charge, no questions.

Wow. I was impressed. The experience for so easy and they completely exceeded my expectations. Specsavers went above and beyond for me in this situation.

Usually a company wouldn’t even let you buy single contact lenses, and if they did, you’d certainly have to pay for them. However, in this case, I received them for free.  I don’t know what the official stance from SpecSavers is on this, but I applaud the company. They recognized I was a customer and even though it was my mistake by not ordering my contact lens soon enough; they were able to give me a pair to hold me over.

Key strategy and lesson:

The takeaway here is to do what’s in the best interest of the customer. The customer in this example (me), clearly was loyal to Specsavers and had simply left ordering a little late. It left me in a very, very sticky situation. In the best interest of the customer, they were able to find me a pair of contacts and save the day.

Well done SpecSavers. You already have a pretty happy customer, now you have a very loyal one.


3. Client Heartbeat goes above and beyond with live chat during on-boarding.

Client Heartbeat is a customer feedback tool that uses online surveys to measure customer satisfaction and identify who of the company’s customers are happy, and who are unhappy.

At Client Heartbeat, we like to apply most of the theory and strategy discussed on this blog. One great example is last year when we began our 24 hour, live on-boarding initiative. This involves providing live chat assistant to help the new customer when they are setting up their accounts. We help them important their contacts, add branding and send their first customer satisfaction survey.

We’ve received lots of great feedback on this initiative. Some new customers tell us they can’t believe we’re up at 8pm; others tell us that they loved the extra personalized service. In most cases where a customer wants help on-boarding, we exceed their expectations.

This is a powerful advantage for us as a SaaS startup. This strategy helps us make a good first impression so that new customers continue to stay with us and tell others about our product.

Key strategy and lesson:

The takeaway here is to think outside the box. By being creative, you can find good ways to WOW customers. Not every going above and beyond strategy is something that you can pick up from a textbook or read about on a blog post. There are plenty of opportunities that are unique to your business and product offering.

What ‘think outside the box’ strategy can you implement to wow customers?


4. LAX Airport goes above and beyond with free luggage carts.

LAX is the seventh busiest airport in the world. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know it’s quite a nightmare to fly-through.

Well, that nightmare experience has just got a little bit better. In recent times, the airport has made a move to offer free luggage carts. Yes, FREE. No longer will you be slugged a $5 fee to transport your big bags around the airport.

Related4 ways LAX is improving the customer experience.

So although this may seem like a little thing, how does it exemplify going above and beyond?

It exceeds customer expectations. Customers are used to paying for luggage carts at most airports, so when LAX offers them up for free, expectations are exceeded.

Key strategy and lesson:

One of the easiest ways to go above and beyond is to find the product or service that you currently offer and see if you can throw it in for free as a value add.

Maintaining those luggage carts aren’t something LAX can do for free – they have expenses associated with it. But they recognized the customer experience. They are happy to swallow that expense to ensure they deliver a better experience to customers.

What can you offer customers that will exceed their expectations?

RelatedThe Complete Guide to Customer Expectations


5. Hubspot goes above and beyond by educating marketers.

Hubspot is an inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads and close customers. If you’ve ever done any marketing, you have probably read a Hubspot blog post or watched a Hubspot webinar.

Using content to educate customers is a great way to extend the customer experience and increase customer satisfaction. Hubspot is one of the best companies in the world at using educational content to go above and beyond. They are always helping marketers and educating them on why customer’s behaviors are changing and why they need to move away from outboard marketing and toward inbound marketing.

I’m not here to preach inbound marketing, but I do want to highlight how good Hubspot is at using educational material. They have a massive blog and a packed ‘academy’ area that are both the go-to-resource for anything from identifying buyer personas, to creating landing pages, to building lead nurturing campaigns, and more. As a marketer, you can digest hours upon hours of valuable material – of the highest quality.

Key strategy and lesson:

The key takeaway here is to use educational content to extend the customer experience and go above and beyond. You should try to become a trusted advisor for your existing customers and future prospects. Use educational material to position yourself as the go-to-expert and source of information in your industry.

What are you an expert in? Can you develop some blog posts and webinars that would add value to your customers?


6. Optus goes above and beyond to deliver faster customer service through social media.

Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia.

One of the biggest pet peeves customers have with telecommunications companies – it doesn’t matter where you are in the world – is customer service. Whether the customer service has been outsourced overseas, or you have to wait over half an hour on the phone, most of us are unsatisfied with our telecom provider.

Recently I had trouble with my Optus account and needed to contact support. Since I knew that calling the number would direct my call to an overseas call center, I opted to send through my question via social media – Twitter in this case. Not expecting a reply, I was pleasantly surprised to have my question answered, and a follow-up question asked within one hour!

I had my question answered and my problem resolved with just two tweets and a DM (direct message on Twitter). All up, it took me a couple of minutes to write and answer the tweets. That certainly beat waiting 30 minutes on hold and struggling to get my question across to the overseas customer service rep.

This exceeded my expectations. Optus didn’t have to offer super-fast support via social media, but they did. A great example of going above and beyond.

RelatedHow to use social media to increase customer satisfaction.


Key strategy and lesson:

Think about leveraging social media as a customer support channel. Lots of brands are now adopting Facebook and Twitter to offer personalized and fast service to their customers. The benefit for you is that you can create an experience that is more in line with your customers’ expectations. Customers want you to be on Twitter, they want you to answer tweets! Some won’t even want to call your support line!

Also, try to be fast about your responses. We live in a society online where we expect answers straight away. That’s not always possible but do try to put systems in place to answer questions ASAP. The sooner you answer, the better chance you have of exceeding expectations.

I challenge you to go above and beyond and offer 10 minute response times. Imagine that? How good would your customer feel after that experience?


Go above and beyond to exceed your customers’ expectations.

Simon Sinek, author of the best-selling book, Starts with Why, suggests that to go above and exceed customer expectations, it starts with your people and your leader.

Simon speaks a lot about attracting the right people to work for you that believe in your vision.

What is your vision for customer service? Do you personally strive to go above and beyond for customers?

Before you can start implementing these strategies listed here, I challenge you to lead by example. Start applying these tactics with your personal day-to-day interactions with customers.

Once you have demonstrated you can go above and beyond, roll out the strategies across your entire company. Through leading by example and knowing why you are trying to exceed expectations, your team will follow suit and it will breed a company culture that will increase customer satisfaction, and create sticky customer loyalty.


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Gordon Tan

Gordon Tan is an entrepreneur based in Australia who has started and sold multiple technology companies with a combined value of $150m. This included a client satisfaction benchmarking platform which gave him first hand insight into the best practices of over 6,000 businesses. After retiring at 35 he is now a recognised thought leader on winning and retaining clients - His two passions: making clients the heartbeat of a business no matter what the product or service and this blog.

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