Research and Insights



Ready, Get Set and Go the Extra Mile

Can you recall the name of the person who last served you at a particular department store or at any service establishment? Chances are that you cannot recall the name of this person who have served you nor visualise his face.

Let's change the scenario.  Imagine that you have interacted with a service provider and this person actually did something really special for you. What is the likelihood that you will remember this person? Surely, it would be very high.  In fact, some of us will even go to the extent of patronising this organisation only if that particular person is around to serve us simply because we want same level of service that we have previously received. Have you ever wondered why this happens?  The answer lies in something called “Going the Extra Mile”.

“Going the Extra Mile” means that you need to do something special that is deemed as important and refreshing to the customer. By doing so, it shows that you have truly understood the customer’s needs, expectations and those things that the customer values. Sounds easy, right? So, why isn't everyone going the extra mile for their customers?

"Going the Extra Mile” Requires Us to Challenge Status-quo

“Going the extra mile” requires a fundamental re-think of what we have been doing for so many years and have unknowingly internalised these behaviors as our habits.  It requires us to challenge our current ways of interacting with customers and, in the process, explore new ways of delighting them. 

Service Action Point:  List all situations that result in a “no” response to the customer, then explore all the possible ways of finding a “yes” response to these situations. 


"Going the Extra Mile” Requires Effort 

In a world where behaviours are typically re-inforced through recognition, going the extra mile does not guarantee that you will be recognised for your effort.  In fact, more often than not, most positive service encounters go unnoticed by customers and the only “recognition” comes in the way of self-satisfaction. 

Service Action Point:  Reflect on the most recent compliment that you have received from the customer.  Recall how satisfied you were at the end of that service encounter.  The next time you serve a customer, let “self-satisfaction” be the driving force for providing excellent service to customers.  You will be amazed at how this changes the way you view your contribution to the organisation.

"Going the Extra Mile” Needs a Customer-first Mindset

Ask anyone in your organisation what his role in the organisation is.  Chances are that you will receive a response relating to their job task.  For example, “I process applications”, “I repair equipment” or “I am a supervisor of a warehouse”.  What these individuals fail to realise is the connection between their work and how it contributes towards customer satisfaction and delight.  Failure to “see the bigger picture” results in a very narrow definition of our role, and in turn directly or indirectly affects the quality of work that is done.

Service Action Point:  The next time you answer a phone call, prepare a document, transport a box in a warehouse from one location to another or carry out any task in an organisation, “link” the work that you do to how it will impact the customer.  In other words, maintain a customer focus.  You will be amazed on how your thoughts shape your actions, in your role in the entire service delivery chain, and ultimately the part that you play in delighting customers.

"Going the Extra Mile” Requires Support from Others

“No time”, “no resources” and “no budget” are three of the more common reasons for not being able to provide excellent service to customers.  Unfortunately, living with constraints is the reality of the world that we live in today.  In view of the limited resources and constraints, can we really go the extra mile?  The answer is “yes”.  The key is to be able to synergise with others, leverage on their strengths, and solicit their support.  You will find that there ARE people who will be forthcoming to help you, and avail their time and resources if they knew that you are trying to delight your customers by going the extra mile.   

Service Action Point:  The next time an opportunity arises to go the extra mile for a customer and you do not have the necessary resources, go up to someone who has the resources and say, “I would like to go the extra mile for my customer, can I tap on your help”?  Get ready to receive a “yes”.


"Going the Extra Mile” Starts with the Word “Going”

The idea of going the extra mile for our customers is nothing new. You may have heard of “going the extra mile” for as long as you have been in the workforce.  The question is not about your familiarity with this idea, it is about being able to translate this thought into action, and it is about a very important word called “execution”.  What differentiates mediocre service providers from excellent service providers is the ability to take action.  Stop pondering, reflecting, and saying that I am thinking of …”.  Put your thoughts into action and move from “deciding” to “decided” to go the extra mile. 

Service Action Point:  Think of one thing that you can do for your customer immediately and carry it out.


"Going the Extra Mile” Requires an Understanding of What is Considered as “Extra Mile”

What one customer perceives as “extra”, another may consider as “basic”, yet others may feel disappointed from receiving the “extra”.  Hence, it is imperative to first understand your customer’s key expectations, what they would have considered as “basic”, “extra”, etc.  Once you have fully understood the customer’s expectations, craft a strategy aimed at consistently delighting them by going the extra mile. 

Service Action Point:  Review recent letters of compliments that have been received and identify what triggered these compliment.  I am sure that the compliment stemmed from the fact that someone has actually gone the extra mile for the customer.  The next time you interact with your customer, demonstrate these behaviours.

In short, “going the extra mile” requires effort.  However, the satisfied look on our customer’s faces, repeat business and a sense of self-satisfaction make it all worth it.  Make the next interaction with your customer a memorable experience because going the extra mile begins with a first step.  Are you ready to go?

Article contributed by Zack Bana, Director and co-founder of Beacon Consulting, which is an approved training provider for Singapore 2006 Customer Service Training Programme.   

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