What customers really want can be divided into two areas.
Firstly – they want the core service of your business to
meet their needs. They expect your product or service to
If you say you’re a plumber, then the customer expects you
to fix their leaking pipe. If you say you’re an accountant,
then they expect you to resolve their tax details.
They also expect your product or service to represent value
If I buy an expensive pair of winter boots I expect them to
keep out the cold and wet and also look good. Naturally if I
was to buy a cheaper pair I wouldn’t expect them to last as
Customers expect your after-sales service to be efficient.
If my new winter boots start to leak when I wear them for
the first time, then I expect the shop to replace them
However, none of this will make customers loyal or cause
them to tell others how good you are. They take this core
service as a given. You wouldn’t see me running around
telling people that my new winter boots didn’t leak.
This is the Second and most important point –
What customers really – really – really want and what will
make them loyal to your business and say wonderful things
about you to other people are:
1. Warm and friendly responses – When customers make contact
with you face to face or over the telephone, they want a
warm response. It can still be businesslike but you and your
people need to look and sound – friendly and likeable.
(This may all sound like common sense to you but think about
these factors the next time you’re a customer and ask
yourself if they’re happening to you. Then ask yourself if
your customers or clients are experiencing this from you and
2. They want to feel important – They know that you have lots
of other customers and clients but they just love it when
you make them feel special.
3. They want to be listened to – Customers often get the
impression that the person dealing with them is not really
listening. You must keep working on your listening skills.
Keep good eye contact with people and concentrate on what
they’re saying. Keep an open mind and resist the temptation
to jump in with an answer.
It’s also important to show that you’re listening. Open body
language and head nods when face to face – lots of Uh – Hu’s
when over the phone.
4. Someone to know their name – A persons name is one of the
sweetest sounds they’ll ever hear. If you use a customer’s
name when you talk to them, it indicates that you recognise
them as an individual. Don’t use it too often as it can
become irritating, but definitely at the start and the end
of a conversation.
5. Flexibility – Customers hate to hear the word “No” or “it
can’t be done.” It’s not always possible to say “Yes” to a
customer or do exactly what they want; however, it is
important to be as flexible as you can.
Tell customers what you can do – not what you can’t.
6. Recovery – When things go wrong, customers want you to
solve their problems quickly. They don’t want to hear
excuses or who’s to blame or why it happened, they just want
it fixed fast.
Customers will often judge the quality of your service by
the way you recover. They will even forgive your mistakes if
you recover well.
Say, for example, you served a meal that wasn’t cooked
properly or wasn’t hot enough. You would need to apologise,
assure the customer it will be fixed and then do it quickly.
Then tell the customer that they won’t be charged for the
main course or give them some wine or a free desert. Then,
when that customer talks about your restaurant, they’ll tell
people – “There was a small problem initially but when I
pointed it out, they really moved themselves and they
couldn’t have been more apologetic.”
Don’t be afraid when something does go wrong; it’s often a
great opportunity to show customers just how great your
service really is.
Overall, customers just want to feel good. They want to feel
better after they’ve dealt with you or anyone in your
business, than they did before. If you can create that
feeling, then you’re well on the way to – giving customers
what they REALLY want.
By Austin Becker