Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Do Customers Really Want? Get the CIA!

We hear ad nauseam that the customer is always right. We also know that there are times when that isn't the case. I think the customer wants more than a "You're right." Here is what I think the customer is looking for.

They want a friendly and courteous communicator. Friendly means that you are open and easy to talk to. It doesn't mean you have to have a 5-minute conversation about their day. It does mean that you sound interested and engaged in what they have to say.  It means that even when they are abrupt or rude, you don't respond with abruptness or rudeness.

Courteous means that you speak to them in a manner that is respectful and acknowledges their importance as a customer. It mean that you say "Please" and "Thank you". These are little things but they mean a lot to the person you are talking to. Friendliness and courtesy show the customer that they are valued.

Finally, I said the customer wants "a friendly and courteous communicator" A communicator is someone who knows how to communicate effectively. It means repeating back and paraphrasing what the customer says to show them you are listening and listening is part of communication.Speaking clearly and using plain language (not technical jargon or slang) shows that you are speaking in a way they can easily understand.

The customer has not been trained on company procedures. The customer doesn't have the software or the manuals or the policy guides. The customer doesn't solve company problems day-in and day-out. You do. The customer is relying on you to provide the correct information. I can think of one company in particular where I could call once and ask for information, hang up and call again, speak to someone else and get a completely different response.  Same company. Same situation. Different information. This is unacceptable. The customer is calling and wants their situation resolved the first time. Repeated calls and different information is a recipe for dissatisfaction.

Once you have the information, follow through, take the appropriate action. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Let the customer know exactly what steps are going to be taken and make sure, on your end, that those steps are taken. Do not make the customer have to call back regarding the resolution.