two generations walking down the street together
PHOTO: Benjamin Ranger | unsplash

When I was 10-years-old, I learned one of the most valuable lessons in life. Work hard and exceed expectations and the rest will take care of itself. This wasn’t a life lesson someone said or something I read, it was learned through the actions of people around me, specifically my father and grandfather.

Both my grandfather and my father were electricians. In fact they decided to start an electrical contracting business in the early '80s. My grandfather, being as stubborn as he was, didn’t think it would work. My father, being as stubborn as he is, knew it would and insisted they not shut it down. Ultimately, my father was right, and the business grew and became successful over the years.

But what made this business so unique? There are hundreds of electricians in each city across America, what was different in this situation? The answer is authentic customer experience.

A First-Hand Look at How Customer Experience Helps a Company Differentiate

I have vivid memories as a kid going with my father to various jobs he and his business were completing and was able to see firsthand how he interacted with his customers. As I reflected on these memories, I asked my father, Mark Racine, to provide some thoughts of his own as to why he was successful and what made his business unique from all the other electricians. Our conversation below shows the symmetry between then and today is very aligned, even with all the digital changes that have occurred over the last 30 years.

Justin Racine: What makes a business truly great?

Mark Racine: What makes a person and business truly the best is the ability to be dynamic. The dynamic performer has intelligence, confidence, integrity, bravery, style and personality unique to themselves, which provides authenticity to the customer. When the pressure is the greatest, they are calm and professional. Because of these characteristics they inspire confidence in those around them.                                

Justin: How did you and your business handle challenge?

Mark: New challenges are just an opportunity to perform without a net — what excitement! For those who interact with customers and clients, they genuinely have passion for this opportunity, the project and the possibilities. With this passion they create excitement and anticipation which transcends to those around them. The dynamic business performer strives to make the product and customer experience the best it can be. With this mindset at the most opportune time and under pressure they deliver, listen and they legitimately care about the customer experience and relationships with customers and employees.

Justin: What separates average customer experience vs. exceptional?

Mark: Is it the product and price that brings or attracts and retains customers? Obviously both factors are important in getting a foot in the door. But what attracts customers in a competitive world? What separates one business with similar services and products from the next? Ultimately, what retains customers and brings in new ones is the business and employees’ ability to deliver on the promises made, along with added value beyond the original scope of expectations. Accomplishing this establishes a relationship that fosters an environment for future success, prosperity and trust with the client. I believe that the customer experience should be as painless as possible. The trials and tribulations in providing the customer with a product or service is not of their concern.

Related Article: The Secret Behind 'Wow' Customer Experiences? Emotion

Customer Experience Still Means the Same Thing: Exceeding Customer Expectations

In speaking with my father, it’s clear exceptional customer experience isn’t a new theory or idea. Since commerce has existed, exceeding customer expectations through exceptional experiences is a sure way to keep consumers coming back and more importantly, keeping them happy.

A lot has changed in the past few decades, specifically technology advancements and the ability for consumers to transact and interact with digital experiences. However, technology is just a vehicle for those experiences. At its core, delivering exceptional customer experiences is a businesses ability to be “dynamic” as my father calls it. Recognizing what the customer needs are, and pivoting where needed to meet and exceed those expectations, is what sets good businesses apart from great businesses.

As Dave Thomas once said, “We’re all in the customer service business. Our goal must be to exceed our customers’ expectations everyday.” So, whether you’re selling hamburgers or electrical contracting services, always put the customer above everything else. Be dynamic, be passionate, work hard, exceed expectations and the rest will take care of itself.