It is one thing to adequately meet a customer's needs when asked, but quite another to anticipate those needs long before they are ever vocalized. The ability to anticipate customer needs makes all the difference between good and spectacular customer service.
Consider these tips to transform your customer service staff from employees who respond to customers' requests to employees who anticipate needs and meet them well in advance.
Know Your Product
Before your employees can begin to anticipate the needs of your customers, they have to know what products and services are available. They need to understand them completely, including the benefits they might offer to their customers. They need to know specifically what a customer might need to complete their transaction, ensuring the customer does not have to return multiple times to get necessary supplies. Your staff must have a solid knowledge of the very details that will make their customers' lives more convenient.
Know Your Customers
Once your staff is well-versed on the products and services you offer, it is time to get to know the customers. This is done by completing transactions with them, as well as indulging in casual conversations that evolve during those transactions. It also helps to know the basic categories and patterns of customers. A customer in the market for a specific product may benefit from two or three complementary products or services as well.
In some cases, knowing your customer requires a visit to their facility to see firsthand what their needs might be. When you pay your visit, take the time to talk to staff about the ins and outs of the daily operations to determine what you might offer to make things more efficient. Find out what the company's future plans might be to discover how you can accommodate growth and expansion into the products and services you provide.
Listen to the Problem
When customers come in to purchase a product or service from your business, they have a specific problem that requires a solution. The product they are hunting for may only solve part of their problem. Teach your employees to be good listeners. Explain that sometimes they need to read between the lines to determine what a customer's true needs are. By identifying and responding to those needs, you will have a much more satisfied customer in the long run.
Cross Sell without Selling
Customers do not like to be hounded into purchasing additional products, but they appreciate a customer service representative who alerts them to products and services that can make their lives easier. For example, in the financial realm, suggesting a debit card or overdraft protection to a customer opening a checking account might be a welcome addition to the initial product. The company enjoys solid customer retention through multiple products sold, and the customer enjoys greater access to their money and peace of mind when they write checks.
When you train your staff to anticipate customer needs, your service level immediately rises. Customers appreciate a company that can meet their needs before they ask, and in turn, they will return to that business over and over again.
- Meredith Estep