This is the simple way to think about customer experience: we all want every client to love their interactions with us. When we provide a service, we want to do a good job.

The hard thing about customer experience is actually discerning those expectations — figuring out what your customer’s unstated expectations are, and then meeting or exceeding them. Here’s how to figure them out and knock them out of the park.

1. Uncover Your Customer’s Unstated Expectations

Every person carries expectations with them that you could never guess.

First of all, you don’t have enough information to provide them the best customer experience possible.

If your last customer articulated a certain expectation you can’t simply try to deliver the same thing. The next person’s expectations may be completely different, and both may be completely reasonable.

The world’s simplest thing that you can do to improve your customer experience to ask them about their expectations.

Simply asking, “what are your expectations?” differentiates you and puts you in the top 10% of customer experience providers! If you only did that one thing, it would have an impact and you’d see better results right away.

2. Highlight What Past Customers Have Expected from You

Now, if you want to be in the top 2-3%, you follow it up with a second question.

You can’t meet everyone’s expectations all the time, so you have to pick out the ones that matter the most to them. If their expectations are unreasonable or they can’t articulate them, the way you find out is to ask with a leading statement:

“Let me tell you what it is that I do — what my customers can expect from me. The three most common/important expectations that I typically encounter with my customers are ___, ___, and ___. Are those things important to you?”

Maybe those expectations you fill in are, “I’m always reachable, I’ll return your call within 24 hours, and I’ll inform you right away when anything changes.”

The question is almost rhetorical at the end because the answer is always yes.

3. Reliably Deliver on your Brand and Service Promises

What’s your brand promise? What’s the 3 things that you’ve figured out how to reliably deliver every time?

For each of those things that you say are common expectations, you basically make a promise to your customer about what you’re going to do to fulfill those promises.

Make sure you can reliably deliver on those things. You should only call out things that you can reliably deliver on — because if you break your promise, it will only make things worse than if you had never said it.

If you say the things that you do (your brand and service promise) and then when you meet those three things — which you will because you’ve figured out how to do it every time — then the customer will have 3 reasons to refer you every time. And they’ll even do it using your own language because they’ll remember at least one of them.

Nobody does that. That will put you in the top 1% of customer experiences.

4. Let Them in On Your Own Expectations

At this point, you’ve already differentiated yourself tremendously. Your customer or prospect is already thinking, wow, this is a totally different experience than what I’m used to.

Now you should state what your goal is when you’re done: that they’ve been so satisfied and delighted with the experience they’ve had, that they’re going to want to be a customer for life — and they’re going to want to refer you to other people!

Stating how you want an interaction to end at the beginning of the conversation is a very powerful thing.

Plus, you’ve already introduced the referral conversation before the transaction has even started. This way, when you follow up to ask for referrals at the end of the transaction, there’s an easy opening. You can ask:

“Remember in the beginning when we talked about this? I want to check in with you. How was this experience for you? How did I meet or not meet your expectations? How did I exceed any of your expectations? Remember that my goal was to leave you with a desire to continue doing business together in the future and feeling that you’d want other people to benefit from my product or service. How close do you think we’ve come?”

When you ask them directly for referrals for the first time, it’s not the first time they’ve heard that want from you.

It’s very healthy for your customers to know that you have expectations, too. When you let them know that you want to meet or exceed their expectations, they will know that this is an uncommon experience and one that they would want other people to benefit from.