I often talk about the importance of exceeding expectations with your clients and community. It’s actually one of my six success pillars for coaches.
Basically, I encourage you to look for simple ways to go the extra mile with your clients and customers.
That might look like:
- Offering surprise bonuses at the end of a program
- Running a little overtime during a powerful coaching session
- Sharing resources from other programs
- Shooting a quick video explaining a process or tool
- Sending clients referrals
- Popping on the phone for a quick call between sessions
- Offering unlimited email support
Though I believe wholeheartedly in the value of exceeding expectations, it kinda backfired on me last year.
Though a lot of time has passed, this one still bugs me.
But I have learned a few valuable lessons about the best ways to exceed expectations to serve your clients while maintaining clear boundaries.
Let’s start from the beginning…
I had a client who required a lot of emotional support from me as I mentored her through her first big online launch.
On top of our regular monthly sessions, we connected over email multiple times each day, co-wrote, edited and perfected tons of email, website, and webinar copy (over 32,000 words in all), and even hopped on the phone for extra support sessions in a four month period.
To say I exceed expectations is an understatement and I did it all with a smile on my face.
Though it was incredibly time consuming (and often draining), I loved the work and was happy to demonstrate that I had my client’s back.
Fast forward a couple of months and, for financial reasons, my client decided she needed to take a break from coaching…
Truth be told, I was relieved.
When I crunched the numbers, my hourly rate was $8. I was working so hard to exceed expectations that I had completely lost sight of my boundaries.
So, when she said she wanted to take a break, I wished her well and said we could circle back whenever she was ready. I handled it very professionally
And that’s when exceeding expectations came back to bite me in the you-know-what.
My client had grown so accustomed to me going above and beyond that, when I didn’t offer my services free of charge for the month, she was very disappointed and surprised.
My effort to exceed expectations had actually just created new expectations.
But here’s the thing: When you really look at our time together, she was totally consistent in her behavior. She regularly requested support in areas outside of my scope and I happily accommodated every time…until I didn’t.
So, from where she stood, I changed the rules.
And I get why she was shocked that I didn’t offer my services for free — because I was already giving them for free.
The expectation that I was setting was that I was totally available to her and that offering my services for free was absolutely a possibility.
More than a possibility.
So here’s the takeaway: You cannot set a precedent that you cannot keep. Instead, learn from my mistake and..
1. Don’t make a habit of running over scheduled appointments.
If you want to exceed expectations, clearly acknowledge that you want to run over in order to offer extra support. That way, they can appreciate your extra effort instead of come to expect it.
2. Be clear about your boundaries.
In my contract, I offer clients unlimited email support. But…what does that really look like? Be clear about what your scope of work actually looks like. The words you say have to be what you mean.
3. ALWAYS take time to contemplate client requests.
For example, if you get an email asking for an extra call that week, give yourself 48 hours to consider your response. That way, you have the space to make a decision that is consistent with your behavior thus far, which will offer better support to your clients and keep things sustainable for you.
Also, you won’t appear so available. You make it clear that last minute requests cannot always be accommodated.
Before we wrap this up, I want to be clear: I still believe it is important to exceed expectations.
In fact, I would go so far to say that my business was largely built on exceeding expectations! Going that extra mile always demonstrates my commitment to my clients which cultivates trust that pays off for both of us in the long run.
That said, after this experience, I can see how being loosey-goosey with my boundaries is actually a disservice to both myself and my client. It made my scope of work unsustainable, and made my client disappointed because I built expectations that I could not meet.
And that, my friends, is the opposite of exceeding expectations.
So if you want your clients to know you have their back, make your boundaries clear. That way, you’ll always meet their expectations, and when you feel inspired to offer extra value, it will always be appreciated.
Has going the extra mile backfired for you before? What would you say is the number one lesson you learned from the experience? Let me know below.