Customer Service AgentBack in August, our 2nd car was having trouble starting after having been parked in the garage for over a month, so we took it to Interstate All Batteries to buy a new car battery. The guy at the counter did something interesting: rather than simply selling me a battery, he asked to check the levels. “I don’t want to sell you a battery that you don’t need,” he said. “Let’s see if this one still has some life in it.”

After testing my car battery, he said that even though it was a little old, it still had some charge left in it, and he recommended that I keep driving the car for awhile to let it recharge – no new battery required. I thanked him for saving me over $100, asked if I could pay him some money for his time, and he said not to worry about it. The battery ultimately lasted for another month.

When I decided that we really did need a new battery, I was happy to give the business to Interstate All Batteries, since they had been so helpful before. The same store associate helped me find the right battery, didn’t try to “upsell me” or get me to buy more battery than I needed, and quickly installed the battery. And then, right as I was getting ready to pay, he told me that they would waive the installation fee.

What a nice surprise! This store associate took what could have been a routine, unremarkable event – buying a car battery – and made it memorable, just by doing the right thing for the customer.

And now I’m writing a blog post about it. Not only was it a nice thing to do for the customer, but it led to free publicity that’s probably worth more than the installation fee would have been.

This story is a small example of how remarkable customer service can be your business’s best marketing tool. Instead of nickel-and-diming your customers, look for ways to surprise and delight them. Give them something extra. Sometimes, truly remarkable customer service takes on a life of its own, and can pay huge dividends for your company.

One recent example: Peter Shankman is a hugely influential publicist and social media strategist with over 100,000 followers on Twitter. One day before getting on a plane, Peter Shankman jokingly sent out a tweet to his favorite restaurant, Morton’s Steakhouse, asking if they could please bring him a steak at the airport. Guess what happened…Morton’s Steakhouse somehow tracked down Peter Shankman’s flight details, sent a tuxedo-clad waiter to the airport, and gave Peter Shankman a free Porterhouse steak dinner with all the trimmings.

Needless to say, Peter Shankman was delighted, shocked and stunned by this surprising display of audacious, awesome customer service. And he immediately shared it with the world. The story of Peter Shankman and Morton’s Steakhouse quickly went viral, spreading the goodwill far and wide, and inspiring other companies to create their own remarkable customer service moments. One of my clients, restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, wrote about this same Shankman/Morton’s story and how it inspired his favorite hotel chain to give him a remarkable customer service experience as well – after he had expressed his disappointment about an overcooked room service steak, the hotel bombarded Aaron with generous hospitality: specially sourced premium-grade steaks, a bottle of Grand Marnier, and even specially-purchased dog beds and a cornucopia of doggie treats for Aaron’s Great Dane and dachshund who were travelling with him.

One of the many small business lessons from Steve Jobs is that the best marketing comes from a passionate fan base of customers. Be generous to your customers, and they tell the world how great you are. Remarkable, delightful customer service doesn’t always have to be something big and splashy like the Morton’s airport steak delivery. Sometimes delighting your customers can be as simple as waiving a fee, rewarding loyalty, keeping your promises, working hard on short notice to help a customer with a complex problem, and giving customers just a little something “extra” so they feel like they’re getting a good deal and are well taken care of.

Nellie Akalp, CEO of CorpNet, is a big believer in this style of “marketing by delighting customers,” as evidenced by CorpNet’s rave reviews from customers. One of the big challenges that a company like CorpNet needs to overcome is the issue of earning people’s trust. Lots of small business owners might be reluctant to use an online incorporation service, or are not sure if it really works, or wonder if it’s really a good deal. But CorpNet has been delighting their customers with surprising levels of efficiency, courtesy, professionalism and integrity.

Anytime you can delight a customer, or exceed a customer’s expectations, or surprise a customer by how well you solve their problem and relieve their concerns, you are earning their trust and marketing your business.

Are you ready to start a business that will delight and amaze customers? Talk to CorpNet for free tools, resources and consultation on how to incorporate a business by forming an LLC, S-Corporation, C-Corporation or other appropriate business structure, while also handling all of the necessary business filings.