The days when businesses could compete solely on their products or pricing are gone, and that consistent service excellence is the only remaining powerful differentiator for businesses.

Research conducted by the Service Excellence Institute (SEI) revealed that intentionally building a culture of service excellence that aims to exceed customer expectations is not only a strong competitive differentiator for businesses but also a powerful catalyst for business growth.

Global studies have shown that by being more service focused, companies can gain up to 6% more in market share and, according to a study by American Express, 58% of customers are willing to spend more on companies that provide excellent customer service.

The bottom-line is that people don’t buy products. They buy expectations and because customers are buying 'expectations', businesses have to go beyond satisfying customers and start looking for innovative ways to 'wow' their customers.

Merely meeting customer expectations or merely satisfying customers will not drive customer loyalty, improve customer retention or make a brand stand out from the competition.

Building the business around the customer, and exceeding their expectations, is what makes a brand stand out.

Consequently, it is imperative that businesses don’t merely meet client expectations but exceed expectations – if they are to survive and thrive. However, to exceed expectations, businesses must be aware of what customers’ minimum expectations are.

One expectation that clients have is that the product or service they purchase from the seller will deliver as promised.

The next expectation is that if the product or service does not deliver as promised, the business will take accountability, make good on that promise to ensure that the customer’s expectations are met.

Finally, customers expect the experience of doing business to be easy, pleasant and seamless. If you’re not easy to do business with, clients will quickly find someone else who is.

Businesses need to, at the very least, understand the minimum expectations of their customers and seek to exceed those expectations. This will ensure a smooth, seamless and hassle-free customer experience.

Now, more than ever, customers are looking to have their expectations exceeded and to be wowed at every level and every touch point with the organisation. This is what drives brand loyalty.

This is also what drives customer loyalty. Ultimately, this is what makes a brand stand out from its competitors and is a powerful predictor of whether or not a brand will be distinct or become extinct.

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