“Sucker punch” is an interesting moniker for an unexpected blow for a competitor. Historically a label from the world of boxing, its use has been expanded to the business world. The implication is a hit that should have been predicted. The fact that the inevitable was missed or ignored leaves the recipient of the punch deemed a “sucker.” So, here is your warning! Your customers have changed!

Customer expectations have not only gone up; they have changed. Getting better might take care of the elevation of expectations, but does little to address the dramatization of expectations. Incremental improvement is always good. But, competitive advantage now comes through an innovative approach to crafting and delivering value-unique experiences.

I enjoy the consistency and excellence of a Marriott hotel. They seem to be forever improving and working hard to meet my travel needs. As a road warrior, they give me solid confidence. But the Hotel Monaco makes my heart race; they give me delightful charm. They are not only good at the basics; they put a goldfish in my guest room, a zebra-print bathroom and yoga mat in my closet, and surprise me with something unique on my pillow at turndown. Marriott addresses one side of customer change—expectations elevation; Hotel Monaco addresses the other side—expectations dramatization!

Keep doing what you have always done and you will get punch drunk believing all is well; that you’re doing just fine. And, in some competitive round, you may get slammed by the departure of customers who want captivating service, not just good service.

What can you do to delightfully surprise your customers today so you can avoid being sucker punched tomorrow?

Photo credit: Maximilian Imran Faleel