Customer surprise: because customer service isn’t enough

According to Webster’s new revised dictionary, the first definition of service is, “The occupation of a servant.”

Have you ever considered that what we do each day in reaction to a customer’s requests will not be what drives them to come back?

I have asked title executives, closers and sales professionals from title companies across America what their product is. What I find so amazing is how the industry has been able to incorrectly indoctrinate each of them without boundaries. It does not matter where they are from: Florida, California, Alaska or New York, the industry somehow has reached each area with the same myth. 

The myth is simply that their product is service. 

Anytime we view our product to be something that marginally meets the expectations of our customers, we are being misled. The simple thought of everyone thinking that their product is service means that they have been misled into believing that if they only provide good service (i.e., are a good servant), their customers will never leave.

This is a well-intentioned but misguided myth that can be a hindrance to the growth of any title company.

Below are three realms of proper perspective regarding customer expectations and service. Adjusting your perspective will help you understand that customer service is not enough. You will have to do better than that if you are to retain your customers and if you are to attract new customers along the way.

1. “Reactive Service”

This is the most common, literal definition of the word “Service.”  This is what we provide when someone asks us for something, when we return phone calls, or when we deliver a farm or marketing package. This is the service we provide when we drop off a commission check.  

In other words, with this type of behavior, we are reacting to someone’s request. The simple fact is that anyone can do that. If we think this type of service separates us from the competition, we are not only wrong, but it is worse than that. Reactive service confirms that we are exactly like the competition!

2. “Responsive Service”

Have you ever considered what your operation would be like if your closers were never asked to return a phone call? In other words, if they were never asked to return a phone call because they were already available to take the call when it first came in.

What would things be like if we could respond to our customers’ needs by making ourselves available to them at the time they needed us?

Our extensive studies show that the single greatest complaint a customer has about their title company is they do not return phone calls quickly, or at all. But that’s not all. They have gotten used to it; they have become desensitized. They no longer expect anyone to be available to take the call.

To be responsive in your service, you will have to re-align some things inside your offices in most cases. You will have to ask your closers to make themselves available by pushing more of the “tasks” related to the file to their assistant so they can be more active in their real role as the relationship manager.

3. “Proactive Service” — aka “Customer Surprise”

If you want a customer to never forget your service, surprise them! Sorry, there is nothing simpler than this. The more you do for them without them asking for it, the more you will surprise them.

Have you ever considered calling a customer when something is right on a file instead of just when something is wrong? 

If the only time they hear from you is when you need something or something is wrong on their file, they learn to emotionally dread hearing from you. That is an unavoidable psychological fact.

When was the last time you or someone in your company called a customer proactively and let them know that their closing was going smoothly? Surprise! When was the last time you picked up the phone for no other reason than to tell the customer how much you appreciate their business? Surprise!

I remember an escrow manager saying to me that she found it odd to make a call for no reason. Wow, what a confirmation. She thought that nothing wrong was “no reason” to call. I told her that when nothing is wrong with a file is a great reason to call her customer. The reason is it is just this kind of thing that will surprise her customer and what will make them stay and tell others about her.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that simply providing good service is enough to retain your customers. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can build a good referral business without surprising your customers.

Make it a goal today to make some phone calls for “no reason,” per our escrow manager above. Call some of your customers and let them know that their files are doing well, that things are looking good and thank them for their business!

Remember, you will not keep your customers by simply serving them — which sounds good, but it is a misguided myth. You will keep them by surprising them!

Surprise! The best business building tool you have.

Darryl Turner is the CEO of The Darryl Turner Corporation, the title industry’s prominent leader in sales, management, closer and executive leadership coaching and training.  For more information on DTC, visit