With just 20 years of working experience in Human Resources, but specializing in Training & Development for approximately 17 of those years, I have had the privilege of working for and with a variety of companies, across different industries and from Junior to Executive levels. So I’d say I have a very good idea of What do Customers Want.
I would say that the most interesting interventions I’ve engaged in, are those related to Customer Service Excellence and Performance Improvement. It is probably my unwavering passion for Service Excellence improvement itself that contributes to these being my most favourite areas. Undoubtedly my forte.
As a coach/influencer/facilitator, I find it amazingly rewarding over the years and to this moment, to be able to engage minds, to motivate and to inspire individuals and teams to be their best – and to apply the right tools to unleash their potential, to not only increase productivity, but to also help them realise and work toward reaching their own personal goals.
Through my years of experience, I have found that there is a huge disconnect between personal and corporate goals. When an employee is unable to make the connection between both, his or her sense of purpose is somewhat tarnished. There are many interventions to fix this, but for now, I want to elaborate on one area specifically and that is; to understand your customer needs. If you are able to understand this, you will experience a sense of fulfilment and this will ultimately create a positive ripple effect…in all areas of your life.
With that being said, I took a deeper look at why so many people get it wrong. It’s pretty simple, these people do not understand what the customer wants nor do they have the knowledge or skills to rectify this. They are often moreseo focused on the product or service that they are selling, and not looking at the customers’ needs specifically.
I don’t know about you, but I get irritated when a tele-marketer calls me and starts talking and talking, almost as if he or she is reading from a script, without first verifying if it’s a good time to speak. Even if I wanted to buy whatever they were selling, I would not entertain the call as I was treated like just another number. They should have checked with me first, to see if it was a good time to speak or not.
There are endless examples that I could list further that depicts how a customer value is not communicated. Let me save that for another day. For now, I’ve therefore put together the following steps for you to use, to help understand the customers’ needs. Feel free to use and share with credit please.
Do you provide service which is caring? Customers sense when you are genuine and when you are just doing something for the sake of doing it – just because it’s your job to do so. Think about yourself as a customer. Would you like to be assisted by someone who sounds miserable and doesn’t make you feel as if they care? Did you project a tone that sounded enthusiastic? Did you smile sincerely?
Just as you want to feel a sense of value, so do your customers, both internal and external.
Do you ask the right questions? Pluck up the determination to probe with open ended questions so that the customer has a chance to explain the bigger picture? Sometimes customers don’t know what they want.
E.g. you could be a sales person, in a cellular store or department. You are approached by a customer who is looking for a cellphone. Do you just offer them the latest or most expensive handset? Or do you probe to assess their needs? Do they need a handset that can send emails? Do they need a handset to browse the internet? Do they need a handset to simply only make and receive calls? If you were the customer, who merely needed a cell phone to make and receive calls, I’m sure you would not appreciate a salesperson trying to sell you some complicated smartphone which you are not interested in and have no need for.
Understand the customer’s needs – link and explain how the features will benefit his or her needs.
Is the service you provide SIMPLE? Customers do not always understand the background information nor the jargon associated with your company. Use clear, simple English to explain your product or progress of a service.
Use the K.I.S.S. Principle – Keep it short & simple
Did you explain all the features & benefits of the product or service? Did you explain the implications, if any? Credibility is vital as you want returning customers; if you omit any important information that the customer should be aware of, chances are that this customer will not trust you in future. Did you provide additional information? Did you check that the product is working? Did you follow up?
Know your product and service offerings, be able to provide all the necessary information.
Did you observe the customers’ mood and/or body language to look out for ques of other possible needs? E.g. if the customer was tired and looked exhausted or commented that they had been shopping all day, did you just ignore that or do you give them a chair to sit on or say something to empathise with them? What do you do to make it easier for them?
Be attentive to the unspoken as well
Did you go the extra mile? Did you make the customer feel so special that they remember you and ask for you by name the next time they visit or call? Did you convey passion for what you do? When you, the service provider, displays a passion for what you do, customers always want to come back to you because they feel valued and this makes the service you provide, memorable in a positive way.
Provide service which is so memorable that they tell others about you and/or your company.
There are many people or companies which offer the same services/products which you do. So what are you going to do, to be the provider of choice? Don’t just give customers what they expect. Give them more. Let them feel like they are getting great value for the money and/or time spent. Offer your additional resources or information. Ensure you follow up. Remember them and personalize every customer interaction, do not treat the customer like they’re just another number.
To be a distinguished service provider, don’t concentrate on satisfying customer needs – rather consider ways of exceeding expectations by providing extraordinary services/products.
Did you honour your promise to call back? Did you resolve the problem within the agreed time frame? Did you find the product that the customer wanted as you said you will and if it was no longer available; did you let the customer know? An informed customer is a happy customer. Even if you or your company does not offer the service your customer seeks, providing them with information on who does, makes you reliable and resourceful.
Honour your service level agreements and promises to the customer