What Going “Above and Beyond” for the Customer Really Means

Tom O'Neill   |   September 24, 2019

Knowing how and when to go above and beyond with customer service is the key to gaining and keeping loyal customers. But what exactly does it mean and how do you get there? Flight Centre Travel Group’s Digital Solutions Team Leader, Tom O’Neill, shares his tips for understanding and prioritising customer needs.

If you search “customer service advice” on the internet, you’ll get a huge amount of information, but almost all of it leads back to the same road: understand and care about your customers.

In fact, I would summarise the key areas of customer service as follows:

  1. Thinking about the customer's wants and empathising with them.
  2. Listening to and understanding the customer’s needs.
  3. Being empowered to go above and beyond the customer’s expectations.

Although this may seem obvious, many organisations stop short of providing a genuinely memorable customer experience by simply delivering what’s expected.

Going above and beyond expectations

The reality is that simply providing what the customer expects will often yield a neutral response on a customer feedback form. To get good feedback from a customer and create a brand advocate, you need to go above and beyond at every touchpoint, to do everything you can to delight them.

This is where understanding a customer’s needs and wants comes in. You need to understand the specific nuances that separate their particular problem from similar problems that other customers face.

To give an example of what ‘going above and beyond’ means: last year I got a call after hours from our enterprise operations manager explaining that a VIP’s laptop was no longer working, with critical data needed for an event, missing.

With no other details, and knowing my team had gone home, I offered to look into it myself. It took the greater part of an evening, and some creative thinking, but I was able to recover the data and arrange a new laptop for the VIP to use come Monday. I also left a specific instruction to the hardware team to place the drive with the data in it in a new computer and then provide this to the VIP so they could operate comfortably. 

The response I received from this was outstanding, and it led to building a great relationship with the VIP, whom I still speak with to this day.

Providing this kind of assistance to customers isn’t technically part of the job description for a Team Leader. I could have very easily passed on the task. But by recognising just how important this was to the customer, I also recognised how important it was to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Creating a culture of going above and beyond

In the right culture, customer service employees should:

  • Understand why going above and beyond is important
  • Develop a mindset that prioritises outstanding service
  • Act on what needs to be done to provide great customer service

This is important not only for maintaining a strong work ethic at an organisational level, but also because customers recognise and appreciate it. If a culture of going above and beyond is established, maintained and continuously developed, your business will end up with brand loyalists who go on to generate revenue for you by advocating for your brand through word-of-mouth recommendations.

A strong customer service strategy permeates an entire company and is shared by everyone, including people who don’t necessarily have customer service in their job description. The “customer service” mindset extends to being able to communicate effectively with stakeholders and colleagues, being able to think critically about issues or problems, and understanding how to prioritise and resolve issues quickly.

At Flight Centre, I see examples of my colleagues going above and beyond for customers and clients every week. This includes everything from taking extra time to help when travel is needed urgently for an emergency, to organising a trip to Disneyland for a sick child. I’m proud to say that we’re genuinely invested in going above and beyond when it comes to providing great service.

Think you have great customer service skills? Flight Centre is always looking for retail superstars who know what it means to go above and beyond. Check out our latest job opportunities.