Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared on Shep Hyken’s blog and is adapted here with permission.

What I’m about to share with you is a simple question to ask your customers—and even your employees—that will help you meet, and even exceed their expectations. This question is about success, for both you and your customers.

First, a little background. I’ve been a part of Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program for 20 years. Once a quarter, I meet with my coach and spend the day working on my future. My belief is that success doesn’t happen by accident, and the Strategic Coach program has helped make my quest for success a purposeful effort. One of the most powerful lessons Dan teaches is what he originally referred to as the “R-Factor Question” and now refers to as the “Dan Sullivan Question.” I like to refer to it as the “Magic Question.”

When I was considering joining the Strategic Coach program, Dan asked, “If we were to get together three years from now, what would have to happen professionally and personally for you to feel this was a valuable investment of your time and money?”

Why was this question so great? It did two things. It forced me to think of myself in the program. When I answered, it told Dan what I considered to be my most important success criteria. Once he knew, he could play to that need and confirm that he could meet my expectations.

I thought about this question quite a bit and realized that it can be used for virtually any situation. While Dan was using it for sales, it could also be used for customer service. Imagine a customer calls with a complaint. You could apologize, acknowledge the customer’s issue and ask a typical question such as, “What would make you happy?” Or you could ask the Magic Question, which is, “If we were to talk again in six months, what would have to happen for you to be happy with our product?”

When you ask it that way, the two things already mentioned happen. First, the customer thinks about themselves happily using the product or service. Second, they share their expectation—once you know what that is, you can confirm or adjust if necessary.

Think about different situations where you could ask the Magic Question. We’ve covered sales and service, but you can use this question almost anywhere. For example, your boss may want you to prepare a report. You could ask, “When this report is finished in a week, what would it need to have in it for you to be 100% happy with it?” You could be working with another employee or team and want to know what would make them happy. Asking the question in this manner is a powerful way to understand success and what it takes to make others happy.

So… if we were to get together a year from now, what would have to happen for you to feel that reading these Shepard Letter articles would be a valuable investment of your time?

A version of this article by Shep Hyken appeared on his Customer Service BlogYou can read the full version here.