“Above and beyond”

It’s a phrase every employee hears at some point in his or her career from leadership. “We expect you to go above and beyond” or “We need you to go above and beyond on this project!” That phrase can oftentimes be perceived as stay late, work harder, do more and so on. This “do more” work culture has become a norm. We work really hard in America, and it’s spurred more conversation on work-life balance.

Clients and customers also expect more for less. Retailers have upped quality and increased high-end brand offerings, and thus shifted our mindset on spending. Working-class Americans can now afford nicer items of higher quality, so we expect this in other aspects of our lives.

So when it boils down to your bottom line and profit margins, how can you show customers you are and will continue to go above and beyond for them? In professional service industries, like public relations, you must look for opportunities. You may have a set scope of services, but if there is a big chance to show a client you will go the extra mile for them, you must take it. That is what drives value and makes you indispensable.

A product-related example of this is my home security vendor. After all of the equipment was installed and my account was established, I received an email several days later saying they were extending an offer for a full year free of identity protection services, including constant monitoring of social security numbers on malicious dark web networks. This offer was never mentioned during the sales period, on the general website service options page or used as a closing tactic. It was simply provided to me for becoming a new customer. To me, that is going above and beyond. It wasn’t one month free, but a full year. Whether it’s small or big, something “extra” really does give customers that sense of going above and beyond for them.

When does going above and become an issue? When it becomes the new normal. If a customer grows to expect rather than be surprised by all of the extra things you are doing for them, that sense of above and beyond may be lost. Anything less is subpar and not what they are paying for.

When should you go above and beyond? In our profession, it’s when we know we can do something more for a client that we a) know how to do and b) know we can do it well. It’s also bringing new ideas and information to the table when you don’t have to. It may be something tangible, like working at a special event to serve as an extra pair of hands or volunteering to pick up and deliver something you helped create for them just to save them money. And it’s also putting in the time after hours when you have to to get something that’s important to them done.

Whatever it may be, finding those opportunities and being the first person to stand up and say, “I’ve got this for you!” will undoubtedly show how valuable you are as a vendor. It comes as a pleasant surprise, and when handled appropriately, your willingness to go above and beyond won’t be overused or overlooked. You may even begin to see a return on that effort in the form of new customer referrals. Customers remain loyal to those who go above and beyond.