Have you heard of this before?  These are the things you do for your customers that are not really required, but when you do them, your customers get that little extra wow feeling from your business.   I think of it a bit like if you went on a date, the guy opens the car door for you.  Not essential – my arms are not painted on, I can open a car door – but it does give the whole experience that little bit extra.

The reason these are critical in your business is because this is what will make your stand out in the crowd of competition.  There is so much more competition in the market place now than ever before especially as the market place for your customers in a lot of cases is no longer limited to a geographical area.  With the internet you can have a global customer base.  Even if you are say a Quick Service Restaurant franchisee, how many places are their in your local area, say within 10 minutes of your restaurant, where people could go to get food?  Lots right?

What can you do to give that little extra wow to your clients?

The best thing about critical non essentials is that they are usually free for you to deliver.  It doesn’t cost you anything to smile to a customer.  It doesn’t cost you anything to be on time.  One franchise group I work with is in the trade services area and a major comment they get from their customers is that they turn up on time, they are clean and tidy in their uniform and they don’t leave any mess behind. Oh and they are polite and don’t swear!  Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have thought that those things are a given that everyone would do them, but no, they don’t.  So not essential to getting the job done, but critical for the customer that you do them.

What could you be doing in your business to provide just that little extra wow for your customers?  Do your team need some training on this?  This would make a great conversation at a team meeting about what the extras you could be doing for your customers.

Here’s a great example of a critical non essential.  I used to see a chiropractor that had a thank you wall in his reception area.  On it he would put up a note saying ‘Thank you to Mary Smith for referring Bob White’.  They were just little coloured post it notes with a hand written message on it.  Every month they would take them down and start again.  My best friend – who is quite competitive – used to love seeing her name up there and would look for more referrals so that she had the most thank you notes on the wall.  I used to watch people’s responses when they saw their name and what they’d say to the chiropractor when he called them in for their appointment.  You’d often hear something like ‘Oh, I made the thank you wall this month!’.

Critical non essentials are not just for times of the year like Christmas or Easter either.  Gone are the days when giving a Christmas card to a supplier or customer was a wow.  What could you do to just go that one step further.  What could you do to wow your customers?

The best thing about critical non essentials is what they do for your business.  Firstly, they produce more loyal, long term, repeat customers which is the best thing to have for any business.  It is six times cheaper to keep an existing customer and get them to come back to buy from you again than to get a new one.  The other reason critical non essentials are so good is that they encourage your customers to refer more people to you.

So look at what you can do.  Firstly, make sure you are exceeding their expectations in service (which as my trade example shows is not that hard to do!) and then look for the step or two beyond their expectations and see what happens to your business.  Get creative, but start with the basics first.