Value, Added Value, and (Surprise!) Unexpected Value

Average doesn’t cut it anymore. People don’t tell their friends about an average restaurant, an average contractor, or an average consultant.

Remarkable, now that’s a different story. At the heart of the word remarkable is “making remarks.” Remarkable service and remarkable products generate remarks from customers, otherwise knows as referrals, the most powerful and reliable way to build your business.

Here’s how to be remarkable: Provide value. Provide added value. And then provide unexpected value.

I have a financial advisor who handles all my investments and has produced outstanding returns even in the middle of recent market meltdowns. That’s the value he provides me.

As an investor with his firm, he provides added value by taking care of both my personal and corporate taxes and my company’s payroll, all at a reasonable rate. He also handles the correspondence related to the the inevitable mistakes the IRS makes and sends me every quarter a detailed breakdown of my portfolio’s distribution and the performance of each fund. That’s added value.

The Element of Surprise

But he provided unexpected value two years ago when he took over the investment responsibilities of my parent’s estate. He was beginning to adjust the portfolio, which had a large amount of cash sitting in a savings account at Washington Mutual Bank. He called me at 5:30 PM one evening and told me he thought Washington Mutual might close its doors. He suggested we get our money out of the savings account immediately. Which we did by 5:55 PM.

The next day, Washington Mutual went under. That’s unexpected value, and it didn’t cost my financial advisor a penny.

Unexpected value is a personal, thoughtful, and customized act of service. “According to a recent poll, the vast majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected.” best-selling author Tom Rath writes in How Full is Your Bucket? “Expected gifts do fill our buckets, but for some reason, receiving things unexpectedly fills our buckets just a little bit more. It’s about the element of surprise. And the gift doesn’t have to be anything big to be successful.

“Luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue conducted an experiment in which sales associates surprised customers who were known to shop infrequently with a small gift. Although it was a mere token of Saks’ appreciation, the customers loved it, and the sales associates did too. The program helped grow the stores’ business by transforming causal shoppers into regular shoppers.”

It’s Your Turn

Go through you current client list and complete this exercise: Ask yourself how you’re providing value to them and how you’re providing added value. Then determine how you can provide unexpected value for each client. Identify a simple, personal, and surprising act of service you can take. Now do it.

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