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Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

Give Me a Good Experience; I’ll Spread the Word

By Melissa Burdon
January 17th, 2011

I’ve often heard that negative experiences stand out more than positive experiences and that they also tend to evoke more discussion. I would tend to agree with this in theory, but I still wouldn’t discount the fact that a strong positive experience definitely leads to a lot of discussion, especially if the opportunities to discuss these positive experiences are presented.

I just came back from my honeymoon in Belize. I tried to leave work behind, and for the most part I was successful. But I’m passionate about marketing, human behavior and our system of continuous improvement, so the theories behind my work still managed to creep its way into my thought process throughout our vacation.

It was really easy to tell the hotels, restaurants and services that were incredibly customer-focused from the ones that were not. The ones that excelled at going above and beyond were the ones we talked about with other travelers along our journey. Subsequently, they probably received a lot of business due strictly to word of mouth marketing.

I’m going to use the jungle lodge we stayed at in Belize as a wonderful example of how exceeding the customer’s expectations can result in word of mouth marketing, leads and/or sales. My husband and I spent the first three nights of our Belizean honeymoon at Macaw Bank Lodge in the jungle. The accommodations were quaint and beautiful, which we would expect from any reasonable hotel in Belize. What blew us away was the custom attention we received from the staff. The two men running the place (standing between me and my husband in the photo above) helped us come up with daily activities and itineraries based on our unique interests. They weren’t looking to make a buck from commissions on different “pre-set” tours. It was obvious they invested this extra time and effort in their guests because they were passionate about helping their guests experience the best of Belize. They don’t just approach their business with the usual mundane tasks and minimum level of effort. Their business is their passion and you can feel their passion in everything they do when running this place.

We appreciated their straight-forward manner, giving us the insider/local tips on everything. They would make no extra money by going above and beyond, giving us all of this information and advice, but they did gain our trust and confidence which is worth a great deal. They helped us see everything we were looking to see in a short period of time, and low on a dime.

After our stay at this jungle lodge, we went to Caye Caulker island and rented a small home from a local real estate management company. The stay was pleasant and we were satisfied with the accommodations, but in no way did they do anything to impress us or exceed our expectations. They did the bare minimum really. It’s unlikely I will recommend this company to anyone I meet who is looking to travel to Caye Caulker, because it’s really not worth repeating.

In contrast, I have already recommended Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge to other travelers we met on our journey, and I’ve written a very complimentary review on TripAdvisor.

What I want you to take away from this story is the importance of exceeding your customer’s expectations. Go above and beyond to impress your customers, and give them more than they bargained for.

We would love to hear some of the unique ways that you’re offering your customers more than they expected. I’m sure we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

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Comments (43)

  1. Great story! I think that in today’s virtual marketplace its much easier to impress customers because so few companies really have a customer focus. The internet places most employees safe beyond the walls of anonymity which results in a great amount of depersonalization, even though perhaps it is by accident! Your story shows that by just going the extra (sincere) mile, you can endear yourself to customers and get greater fulfillment in life if not some great word of mouth business!

  2. well said stuff, as the more you go towards the experienced side, the stronger your knowledge and belief become and harder the discussions become.. amazingly true…

  3. I strongly agree that when people are operating business with passion, we can feel their passion. In our last trip, we experienced exactly the same thing while staying at various hotels. Excellent services don’t come from just trying; it has to have passion behind them.

  4. I can’t agree more. I was in the Customer Service line for many years now. Even after becoming a homemaker, I am still one who believes in exceeding other’s expectation. The gratification from it is beyond description.

  5. I think your right. The biggest lesson is to always exceed your customer’s expectations. It doesn’t matter if you have a brick and mortar business like as hotel, or an online business.

    I have learned that if you want to be successful in any business, customers have to come first. Once you quit trying to make money and try to take care of your customers, it seems that you will actually make more money.

    Funny how things like this work:)

  6. One ponint from me, do the best for your customers and you’ll see amazing thing happens, just like your story…

  7. This is a basic rule for every service oriented organization to provide unique service and satisfy their customers so that they can build their goodwill and retain the customers too, that satisfy customer will also spread your best & quality services to his/her circle which helps to increase the reach of the organization.

  8. The strong work ethic in other countries has always inspired me as well. Great article.

  9. it is a good think to do your job with passion.

  10. I think you have to give people a good experience if you expect them to come back, however with SEO and CRO, sometimes you can just get what you need out of them the first time around. Sad but true, I know many top 100 properties that follow this model. Clearly if they gave 2 cares they would clean up code, improve usability, etc…

  11. With so many tools out there for getting new customers, a lot of companies have forgotten just how important it is to take care of their current customers. I’m sure it costs a lot more to recruit a new one then to spend a little time making sure the ones you’ve got are happy. Referrals and positive feedback are some of the best things to get to grow a business. For an example, see how people are using customer testimonial tools to increase conversions (

  12. I think that the same ol’ basic human interactions apply on the net – treat people genuinely, endeavor to give the best you can and you’ll have a real two way thing going.

  13. It is very inspiring to see work and different work ethics over the world. Strongly relate to this article and experience. Passion should be key to every job.

  14. @Relationship Life – yes, this is true. But certainly how you endeavor to give the best you can is part of the equation too. I am sure you’ve had experiences in life where you did your best to please someone, but with little success. Or perhaps an occasion where you felt that you and another person where saying the same thing, but still couldn’t seem to agree. Those are examples of how different people can value different things in life. Giving your customer the best you can means understanding what is most important to them about your product, and delivering on that, both in terms of the product itself, and how you present the information about that benefit in your marketing. Recognizing that the same benefits might not always appeal to everyone – some people will put a higher priority on one benefit while others look to something else – is key. If you are successful in these things, you will delight your customers!

  15. I remember being taught the phrase “The Customer is always right.” I think it actually goes even deeper than that. We have goals as representatives or sales people and customers have goals of what they expect for themselves, but sometimes its best to set those both aside and figure out together what the best decision would be. For example: A client walks into a boat store interested in purchasing the biggest, most expensive boat available. That is his goal. The salesperson would also have the goal of making a great sale and possibly higher commission off of the more expensive boat. The salesman, instead of immediately selling that boat, begins asking what the customer’s needs are. He asks where he would use it and what he would use it for. After talking about it for a few minutes the sales rep refers the customer to a less expensive boat, but a boat that fits his needs even better than the other. The customer leaves happy willing to refer people to the store.

  16. It´s a well think to do your job with passion. Do the best for your customers and see… Great article.

  17. The salient point for me is the mention of “They would make no extra money by going above and beyond”. Too many people offer mediocre service if there is no immediate monetary compensation. Managers that can convey the big picture to their employees will thrive, when others fail.
    Thanks for sharing

  18. Perfect example of how work should be done and perceived. Love the thing you do and customers will notice this. Nice insight from a complete different market.

  19. I’m with you on good experiences being strong way to market. Or perhaps we should say outstanding experiences. And its really not that hard to give customers an outstanding experience (at least for small businesses that are invested in the day to day operations). Its all about really caring for customers. And people talk and give referrals.

  20. Melissa, congratulations btw, and your honeymoon sounds very exciting!

    I think in these days of heavy competition all over, a lot of little things can make such a big difference. Yet, there are still so many businesses that do not take the simple steps of providing a few extra simple things I think that would truly make a lasting impression. This becomes a great opportunity for some of the smaller businesses who are willing to take that extra mile to stand out.

    Especially in a down economy, I often go into some of the stores and find that they just seem so depressed, and I can see that they are pre-occupied by the lack of businesses and have seem to given up or just act really nonchalant. That means as soon as I go into a store with great customer service and people greeting me and act helpful, I will particularly remember it. I feel this is a great opportunity for some of the businesses to stand out.

  21. I have just opened a massage therapy business in a small town and I know I will live or die based on customer service so I try to go the extra mile and really connect with my clients… get to know them on a personal level and talk to them about things going on in their life instead of bantering about the weather etc.

  22. I always find when staying in hotels around the world, I receive better service and support abroad than at home. In some countries you still find the staff with the true passion to help and assie with your every need. Excellent post Melisa.

  23. the web is built on two things: “freedom” and “free value”, as long as you offer your visitors free value they will return the favor in dividends

    what creative methods you will use to give that free value, now that is the real endeavor

  24. The customer leaves happy willing to refer people to the store

  25. I see what you mean. You can always feel whether someone does their job with passion or just because they have to. Hopefully many business owners read your post and start acting and reacting.

  26. I love this idea! I always do my best to speak to managers of good customer service employees, whether in person or over the phone. I should start getting more web 2.0 about the whole thing!

  27. Thanks, great read as always. CS will definitely make or break the future of your business.

  28. Great informative post. I must agree with you, a hotel or restaurant that is customer-focused is always recognizable and that’s the best thing that they should offer their customers. In return customers will make recommendations to friends and will return to this establishment because of good service.

  29. It’s absolutely true that folks not only remember good experiences but they will also tell their friends about it too…maybe more so than they would for bad experiences which they simply forget.

  30. Customer service is very important in any business but sometimes it is overlooked especially if it’s just a job for the person. No wonder those who succeed are usually those who are passionate about what they do. And I think customer service is not something that’s just for a business. The best way that we can describe it is our own personal interaction, if we are kind to other people then we can expect people to remember us and vice versa.

  31. I think it really depend on every people personality, you may do not belive – some people have a lot of bad experience, suffer from physical disabilities etc, but they are always have positive mind and never stop working hard to reach their dream. Many success people today have a lot of bad experiences in the past, but they can move forward and become like today.

  32. Firstly congratulations on being a newlywed. I’m in total agreeance that positive memories can and will make as much or more of a lasting effect on someone than a negative one. Success comes from the building awareness. Be aware of your customers needs and you will reap the benefits.

  33. Interesting post. In today’s highly competitive business world it is very essential to focus on providing excellent customer support specially in hospitality industry. The essence is that it is indeed very essential to have passion in any work you do.

  34. Confirmed. This is a third party answer a I am a consultant whom has been working with a tourist attraction in Australia. I was brought in to help this company move from a revenue focused system to a customer focused system. We discovered that in order to get the people to buy into what we termed “customer experience” we had to firstly provide the staff with a exceptional customer experience. The first thing we did was set standards. Basically, the staff at the worker level set down and decided what the perfect work place would look like, etc. Now that they had set there own stadard it was easier for management to uphold. Next the staff set there own deliverables. We called them targets they thought they could achieve. Now the people had ownership. We posted the feedback in the staff eating area for all to see on a monthly basis. The categorize included sales, attendance, saftey, customer service, refunds, etc. I was amazed at what happened. The staff started to manage their selves. As we connected the targets to small rewards the people became competitive in a friendly way and they started to pull eah other up when one team member was letting the others down. In a matter of 6 months the mood and experience has completly changed. The feedback from the public has been outstanding, especially from persons whom had been to the establishement previously and the revenue continues to rise.

  35. Thanks for sharing your experience. I too agree that when someone does their work with passion & dedication it somehow reaches others. In fact we also had a very good experience when we went for a holiday trip to Penang in Malaysia. I must say the hotel where we stayed and the people at our service was really a great experience.

  36. It’s right, customer support in these days is extremely important. For example this article has very nice tips about this. I’m always investigating to offer the best customer support in my business :) .

  37. Great story! I think that in today’s virtual marketplace its much easier to impress customers because so few companies really have a customer focus.thanks

  38. I think the attitude you adopt is perhaps more important than the specific things you provide customers. Take the attitude that you’re going to go above and beyond and that’ll naturally emerge in your actions. For instance, in foreign exchange the business model for every broker is pretty much the same, but some brokers differentiate themselves by consciously being more conscientious.

  39. One of the few benefits of the current recession is the return to the old style personal touch by hotel staff. During the good years many people took their visitors for granted and failed to go that extra mile for guests. From my experience, to succeed in today’s climate some hotel owners realize that to increase their survival chances, in Ireland anyway, in todays market they need to focus again on the customer

  40. If we make a mistakes we give them disounts and coupons.

  41. Customer focus and their satisfaction is what we need for success in marketplace. This really fits for any type of marketplace or business models.

  42. It seems that every good and great experience I’ve had, which I’ve written about; has led to many comments, and a viral response. Real life living really brings in great profits.

  43. Great post! I totally agree with you that by going beyond the normal expectations of service, can and does lead to better word of mouth advertising as well a higher rate of return customers.Congratulation on getting married,and as always keep these posts coming!

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

More articles from Melissa Burdon

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