by Dan Beaulieu
The best way to know what your customers want is to ask them. One of the biggest disconnects between your company and your customers is not having a comprehensive agreement of what services the customer expects from you.
I have found that a clear understanding of what a customer’s expectations are goes a long way in you being able to meet or even exceed those expectations.
I know it is not always that easy. That customers are not always clear in expressing their needs. And sometimes they are not even sure themselves what they want which might lead you to assume what they want…and that leads to very dangerous ground indeed.
In the end it is so much better to take the right amount of time to have a good discussion with your customer and this way create a clear and concise understanding of what those expectations actually are.
Here are a few tips on guiding that discussion with your customer to make sure you get a complete understanding of what they expect from you:
- Listen carefully when the customer tells you what they want.
- If you do not yet get exactly what they want, ask more specific questions.
- Once they answer you, repeat what they told you so you both know that you both understand.
- Sometimes a customer says one thing but really means another. Ask again for clarification.
- Dig in to make sure that what the customer is asking for is really what is going to solve their problem. This is especially true when you are brought in for home repairs like plumbing or electrical work. Find out what the real problem is rather than what the customer wants you to do. What they want you to do might not be the right solution for their problem.
- And always not only listen but actually hear what your customers are telling you.
- Once you’ve had your discussion with the customer and you feel that, yes, you have a good understanding of exactly what he or she wants from you, then it is a good idea to document it. Depending on the complexity of the project or the product, write down exactly what you understand the customer wants and give it to them to review, agree with and sign. When working extensive home improvements projects for example, this is a must.
The success of your product and service is based on whether the customer is happy or not. In the end it doesn’t really matter if your product is perfect, if it’s not what the customer wanted then you all lose.
Having a good and clear understanding of what your customers’ expectations are and meeting those expectations is, in the end, the best way to grow your business.
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