By Alan Graner
Of course you know what your customers want. If you didn’t, they’d go to your competitors. Right?
Unless, of course, your competitors are no better than you. In which case….
Us, what was the question again?
Ask Kristin Zhivago. As a consultant she’s brought into companies to help them become more successful. In her blog, “Revenue Journal”, she writes: “[I hear] what the top managers think is important to customers. It is a prioritized list. It always makes sense and sounds perfectly reasonable. The company’s managers have been making decisions based on this list.” “
When she interviews the company’s customers, however, “[they] tell me what’s important to them. It’s a prioritized list. And it is ALWAYS different than the company’s list. So the decisions the managers are making are based on false assumptions and flawed data, which, of course, leads to flawed decisions.”
So what DO customers want?
According to startupnation.com, “What your business needs to stand out is better customer service and satisfied customers.” What shoppers want from you is:
- Knowledgeable and available staff
- Friendly people
- Good value
- A fast finish
The SCORE Small Business Blog states 93% of Americans surveyed say “companies fail to exceed their service expectations.” Moreover, 61% of them “feel companies have not increased their focus on providing better service.”
Their four biggest complaints:
- Passing the buck
- The waiting game
- Being boomeranged (forced to continually follow up)
An American Express press release entitled “Social Media Raises the Stakes for Customer Service” declares great service:
- Starts with the people who deliver it.
- Is all about relationships.
- Makes it easy for customers to do business with you.
- Exceeds expectations is easier than you think.
- Includes listening to your employees.
In “The Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service,” Susan A. Friedmann lists the following:
- Know who is boss. Never forget the customer pays your salary and makes your job possible.
- Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs.
- Identify and anticipate needs. Customers don’t buy products or services; they buy good feelings and solutions to problems.
- Make customers feel important and appreciated.
- Help customers understand your system.
- Appreciate the power of “Yes.”
- Know how to apologize.
- Give more than expected.
- Get regular feedback.
- Treat employees well.
What do your customers want?
Find out the old-fashioned way. Ask them!
What are your secrets for great customer service?
Image: François Pascal Simon Gérard
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA based marketing communications firm. For a great public relations campaign, accompanied by personal service, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.