By Shep Hyken

I recently wrote an article about the little surprises that companies – and people – sometimes give us when we do business with them. We received some great feedback, and it got me thinking of other ways to surprise our customers. That’s what this follow-up is about. I’m often surprised at how companies find ways to improve a customer experience with something that has nothing to do with what they sell. It’s best illustrated with an example. 

I pulled into a restaurant parking lot where there were several valets waiting to park our car. The gentleman opening my door greeted me and then asked, “While you’re having dinner this evening, would you like us to wash your car?” 

Well, I never thought that going to dinner would include a car wash. But that night it did. While a clean car wasn’t officially on the menu, it was an additional service they offered. This was a great way to keep the valets busy during slower times and make them some extra money when the customers generously tipped them for an amazing experience.  

So, I started thinking about other ways I’ve seen this concept in practice.  

Certain hotels used to offer a shoe-shine service while you were asleep. Just put your shoes in a bag that the hotel provided and hang it on the outside doorknob before midnight, and your shoes would be returned before 5 a.m. While there was no charge for this, I remember dropping a few dollars into the shoe with a thank-you note.  

We used a seasonal lawn service from April through October each year. They would do the spring cleanup, cut the grass, and provide other services you would expect. At the end of the season, they would prep our lawn for the winter, and we expected not to see them again until the following spring. Then during a winter storm, our “lawn guy” dropped off a bag of salt to melt the ice on our sidewalk along with a note to let us know that even though we didn’t see him for almost six months, he still cared about our home. It made sense. It was about keeping our home looking nice. And it was an unexpected positive touchpoint. 

Keep in mind this isn’t about a surprise appreciation gift. This is an extension of what you do, but it’s something that might not be expected. It’s something that adds value to the experience. What’s your version of that? Get your team together and brainstorm ideas. Start by asking the question, “When have you ever been surprised with something extra from a person or place you did business with?” Find your version of the carwash during dinner or the shoeshine while you sleep.