Most businesses claim to offer customers what they want. Some even spend and money trying to figure out what their customers want.But in the end, too many of our businesses do a poor job knowing what their customers want and delivering it to them.
I know this because every time I ask people what they want when they are customers they give me an earful.Last year I surveyed roughly 2000 people about this. They hailed from 32 states in the USA. Over a 10-month period I asked people:
“What do you want when you are the customer?”
Here’s what they told me:
Top 16 Things Customers Want
1. Listen to me
2. Know more than I do (about your product or service)
3. Be easy to work with
4. Give me what I came for
6. Tell me your name
7. Acknowledge my presence
8. Don’t treat me like I’m an interruption
9. Show me you care
10. Don’t waste my time
11. Be honest
12. Offer alternatives if you don’t have what I want
13. High quality and low prices
14. Don’t try to sell me. Just help me
15. Do what you say you’re going to do
16. Keep me informed
If the vast majority of our companies were really taking care of customers like the customers wanted, I think this list would be a lot different. It would focus more on specifics of the product or service in question. But these items are almost all people skill issues.
In a comment on one of my posts recently, my friend Glenn Ross mentions the importance of listening as a way to increase customer retention. And, not coincidentally, listening is at the top of our list of what customers want.
Glenn hit the nail right on the head. I am convinced, if every company in the USA focused on teaching and coaching every employee to listen better for 30 days, customer service in this country would be 10 times as good as it is today.
The bad news is this will never happen. The good news is, you can make it happen in your organization. It might be your entire company, if it’s a small or mid-sized organization. Or it might be a department, division or branch, if you’re in a larger company.
Set a goal of having every person in your company, department or division become a better listener. Then decide what actions need to be taken to reach that goal.
-Have a listening workshop or seminar to kick things off
-Have facilitated roundtable meetings where employees define what better listening means
-Have them discuss how better listening might improve the company and working environment
-Write down the outcomes from these meetings and distribute the to everyone
-Get better listening tips and post them throughout your offices
-Send the same tips to employees via email, one per day
-Get your customers involved – ask their feedback on employee’s listening skills
-Have awards and prizes for the best listeners (use secret shoppers)
Make sure your employees understand the connection between great listening and their paychecks.
Then, at the end of your 30 days, have everyone take the assessment again. See how the scores change.
Keep doing this until you feel your entire workforce is delivering top notch listening skills. Do this and you’ll see your customer retention skyrocket. I guarantee it!