By Shep Hyken

Think about this … what if you were to charge a customer just to talk to you about what you would sell them? Or, if you own a retail store, a fee to enter the store. What would you have to do for your customers to be willing to pay for the privilege of buying your products or services?

I’m not suggesting that you should. This is just to get you thinking about how good you really are. How good you are compared to your competition. How good your customer service is. How good your people are. You get the idea. Are you good enough that customers, if you asked it of them, would pay? 

That’s a pretty high bar. That said, I know people who do charge for the privilege of sitting down with them, just to discuss if you want to do business with them or not. I’ve met financial advisors, attorneys, and architects who will charge you for the first meeting with them. If you decide to do business with them, they give you a credit toward their future fees.  

You may be thinking, “I could never do that.” And, maybe you can’t, but that’s not the point. Just play the “What If” game and pretend you could. What would you do differently? How would – or should – your employees act toward the customer and each other? What would your company or business look like if it were that good?  


I asked a few of my business rock star friends about this idea and here are some of their answers: 

  • My customers would never have to wait on hold. 
  • Our customers would get callbacks and email replies within two hours. 
  • We would keep our customers informed throughout our project. 
  • We would do our best to anticipate our customers’ needs and call them before they called us. 
  • We would offer a lifetime guarantee.  
  • If the equipment we sold our customers ever broke down, we would come to them to pick it up and leave a replacement until theirs was fixed.  
  • I would only hire the best people and train them to take care of our customers. 
  • We would make them feel like they were a guest at a fine hotel or restaurant. Our service would be impeccable. 


If you think about these answers, they are exactly what customers expect anyway. But I want you to think bigger and, for lack of a better term, crazier? What would be over the top? What would make your customers say, “Wow!” These ideas don’t have to be realistic. They just need to make you think. And the bigger and crazier you think, the more likely you are to come up with a smaller idea that can work.  

So, here’s your assignment. Share this article with your team. Start a conversation with the goal of coming up with at least one idea – hopefully more – that will make you even better. And maybe that idea is so good that customers would pay you for the privilege of doing business with you, even if they don’t have to.