Anticipating Customers’ Needs
Times have changed and its high time customer service delivery is considered in a different light. We were taught that businesses should learn to identify their customer’s need in order to serve them well. We are however in times when product life cycles have become shorter and shorter, with product innovation and upgrades being the order of the day. We see how the telecom industry with the advent of digital finance has disrupted financial services delivery. Banking services, food vendoring, retail services and others have all evolved. Bankers are now seen visiting customers in their place of work or residence to serve them. This is noticeable with the microfinance, the Savings & Loans and some SME banks and the premium banking services for the high net-worth client. What is the thinking here? These services began with one bank deciding to ANTICIPATE CUSTOMERS NEEDS rather than just identifying current ones. They saw the need of the customer who may be too busy to leave their business and visit the bank for transactions. Likewise food vendoring, personal grooming services and other services have followed on, all having anticipated that their clients may not have the time to come to them to patronize their services. The fact is sometimes customers may not know what they want until it is introduced. It could also come under product development and innovation but the underlying thought is in making the customer happy. In these modern times customers are bound to be happier with businesses with the ability to ANTICPATE NEEDS and meet those needs as against those who are merely meeting core needs.
Exceeding Customers’ Expectations
We were also taught to satisfy customers’ needs, but trends have proven that businesses are supposed to EXCEED CUSTOMERS’ EXPECTATIONS as against just giving them what they primarily want. The one who goes to eat fufu in the chop bar, knowing it is a chop bar may not expect much, but if the pre-eating handwashing water is brought warm and disinfected, customers’ expectation would be exceeded. The one who eats in the restaurant may have their needs exceeded if they are able to get some nutrition tit-bits as they enjoy the meal. This is what we call the ‘wow’ factor. These are the extra perks that customers do not expect but when experienced; it sweeps them off their feet. This principle works especially when there is an opportunity to right a wrong a customer experienced while patronizing the service.
Read more: 5 Things Customers Desire in every Business Relationship
It is great if the customer got all they needed in a shop and got served well by the cashier. But if the customer is carrying a baby, it would be wow if a shop assistant would accompany the customer with their items and help them pack into their car. Fortunately the extras that create the wow factor do not cost much and may not demand much effort. My family had the chance of buying a TV not too long ago. We were about to walk out of the store with the mind of going to scour the market further more to see if we could get better options. This young guy walks up to us and begins to talk us through the various features and their pricing justifications. He is the one who explained to me what the 3D feature is and how you can rightly judge the value of what you are buying with its features and benefits. The shop representative absolutely knew his stuff and guess what; we bought the TV from the store. In this case, the wow factor was the expert product knowledge he had. It could be argued that this was expert selling, but his patience to break such technical knowledge down was the service we well appreciated, mind you information gathering is the second step in the customer’s buying decision once they see the need to acquire the item. We were ‘wowed’, and we bought.
External Customer Only
The third big block of customer service is a fad that needs to be challenged to correct an erroneous impression. For customer service to thrive in an organisation it needs to be central to the organisation’s strategy. In that case everyone in the organisation thinks excellent customer service and actually ‘behaves’ customer service I personally think there is only one customer, the King, the one who patronises our businesses, that is the EXTERNAL CUSTOMER. Basically the so called internal customer is the employee. The employee should be seen as such and properly managed for optimum engagement. I agree to the fact that happy employees leads to happy customers. However, every employee should be made to think that there is a good customer out there who puts food on their table. Employees, from Back office, IT department and other units through to factory hands in manufacturing should be made to ‘see’ that one big customer. Both customer facing and non-customer facing employees should be made to know that they serve that (external) customer who they may or may not see at all. If this customer’s expectation is exceeded or at least met they also receive their salaries and other rewards, if not they starve.
For organisations to achieve a good all round customer service excellence, every staff from CEO to the last man/woman should be made to ‘think’ and ‘see’ that one EXTERNAL CUSTOMER who pays their bills. I am tempted to debunk this notion of the internal customer and the external customer. Our training sessions drill down to making staff ‘see’ this (external) customer and makes customer service an organisational behavior other than just another module in the training bouquet. It appears to be a tedious task but it eventually pays off.
For the 21st century business to make a mark in customer service delivery, they should go beyond the ordinary. They should learn to anticipate customer needs and introduce products and services to suit anticipated needs, go the extra mile to give a wow experience to customers and lastly build “customer service behavior” into all employees.
Author: Amma Adjeiwaa Antwi
About M-DoZ Consulting
M-DoZ Consulting offers Business Consulting, Corporate Training and Retirement Planning Services. Areas of expertise include Talent Development, Strategic Planning, Retail Operations, Business Communication, Risk Management, Customer Service Excellence and others. You can contact us on: Tel: +233247-247-200, +23320-1196-080
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