Home / About Us / ProLearning Blog

ProLearning Blog

ProTip: What Do Your Customers Want?

Michelle Nitchie / Jul 23, 2015 10:00:00 AM

What_Do_You_WantNever assume you know what your customers want. 

-Renee Evenson, Customer Service Training 101

While this tip seems so obvious, it's a lesson we can all keep refreshing ourselves on.  It's still so easy to get it wrong, plus it pertains to so many areas: customer service, sales, marketing, problem resolution, and on and on.

Let's looks at a couple of specific sample scenarios to see how it applies.  First, a customer phones your call center and states that he's calling about a large surcharge on his bill related to a water leak he'd had the previous month.  You immediately launch into a careful and clear description of exactly where the various charges came from, giving thorough details including date references, and justifying how they all add up to the total on the bill.  Clearly, you know your stuff and you are familiar with the customer's account.  Great response, right?  In many cases, yes, but what if the caller just wanted to know if it was possible to spread the surcharge out over a number of months as part of a payment plan, but couldn't say this because you didn't let him get a word in during your description?  You wanted to be proactive in your response, and the emotion behind that is the right sentiment, but you have to be careful not to "jump the gun" and go too far with your anticipatory service.  Always consider if you are making an assumption and ask a quick clarifying question first before giving assistance to put your skills to use on the right issues.

Second, you and your team are developing a new product line.  One team member has an excellent "light bulb moment" idea, and you all agree that the product is cool and innovative.  You even already have a great marketing pitch all planned.  You develop the product with lightning speed, and then the marketing team goes into action.  The promotional materials are beautiful and your outbound marketing plan is solid.  You've taken all the right steps, so why is no one buying?  In this case, the product was not based around what the customers actually wanted, but what your team in the room believed the customer wanted and what you were excited to develop.  Often, because of your expertise and experience with customers over the years, what you believe they want/need and what they actually are interested in do align.  But just as often, they don't, and this can mean a lot of wasted time, effort, and money.  Avoid this by regularly and consistently try to find out what your customers real needs are through direct questioning, surveys, observations, audits, and other research.

What both scenarios have in common is that we had the best of intentions and we did nearly everything right - that's what makes it so hard to avoid such assumptions.  But if we stay alert and ask ourselves "why do I think this is what the customer wants?  What proof do I have?" we can ensure we are always on the right track.


Topics: Being Attentive, Listening, Customer Service, Customer Feedback, Sales and Selling

Tips and resources on how to be a master of customer service and sales; to improve yourself personally, as an employee, and as a leader; and much more.

Subscribe to Blog Updates

Recent Posts