We've all heard the amazing stories of businesses that "surprise and delight" customers, like the airline that slyly asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas as they boarded their plane, then had those gifts waiting for them when the customers arrived at their destination.

These initiatives are certainly great ways to go above and beyond for customers—and they're just plain fun for all involved. But the customer experience must be more than an occasional highlight. A good relationship with your customer base really boils down to day-in, day-out engagement.

So how do you keep the momentum going after you've gone above and beyond for your customers?

As I write this, the company I help lead is in the midst of just such a situation. Earlier this year, we hosted the Hearing Innovation Expo, an event for customers of Starkey Hearing Technologies, where I'm senior vice-president. The Expo took place in Las Vegas and drew more than 3,400 hearing-health professionals from around the world. We pulled out all the stops: world-renowned speakers, including President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Guy Kawasaki, Simon Sinek, Carly Fiorina, and more. Sessions on cutting-edge innovations in our industry. A private concert by Brad Paisley to close out the four-day event. It was, in a word, remarkable. Our customers told us in no uncertain terms that they were delighted by the entire experience.

The event no doubt went a long way toward building enthusiasm and cementing our customer relationships, but now that it's over we must work to keep that connection with them going strong. All year. Without the shine of former presidents and country stars to help. We set the bar extremely high.

Luckily, we've focused on customer experience long enough to know that the seemingly small day-to-day interactions with customers are ultimately just as important as the big gestures. By following a few basic guidelines, you can keep your customers satisfied and engaged 365 days a year, whether or not you employ show-stopping "surprise and delight" moments.

1. Listen

Do not assume you know what your customers want and need. So how do you get that information? You ask, and then you listen.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Brandon Sawalich

Brandon Sawalich is senior vice-president for Starkey Hearing Technologies, a premier provider in hearing healthcare.

LinkedIn: Brandon Sawalich