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  • What do customers really want?

    What do customers really want?

    The Internet seems to be down, “Is there a problem on the network?” you ask. “No Ma’am, the network is working fine, please try rebooting the computer.” 5 minutes, 3 reboots later, you call again. “I am sorry ma’am, there is problem in the main server. It will take 3 hours to sort out the problem.” What is more upsetting… that the connection is down or that the problem wasn’t acknowledged? Or even more that they didn’t call you themselves to confirm that a problem had been identified?
    “Ma’am, I am sorry about the inconvenience caused but I cannot courier the statement to you – it is not our bank’s policy to send it by courier, we can only send over normal mail.” You may have tax returns to file but the packet can only reach you in 7 days, and not 2, because the bank doesn’t use a courier and they won’t make an exception, even if you offered to pay for the courier.” Sometimes however you manage to reach someone high up and it has been possible to organize a courier.
    A cheque you deposited 6 months ago, hasn’t been received in the recipient’s account and you are trying to trace it by calling phone-banking “Ma’am, I understand that you need details of the cheque. What I can tell you though is that the cheque has been withdrawn, for more details you will have to go the home branch.” They won’t give you the number of the branch, so you request a call back. A call is promised but never happens. You land up at the home branch and the manager on the desk goes through the regular motions, even writes a mail to the HO (right in front of you) to figure out what happened! Only you are not so sure, if he knows HOW he needs to figure out what has happened. Five minutes, 3 interruptions later he suggests you meet the Branch Manager. The branch manager greets you politely, listens to your situation, looks into the records and confirms that the money had been transferred to the recipient’s bank but final transfer into the correct account needs to be checked at that bank – explains the procedure, hands you his business card and suggests that you call him on his hand-phone if there is a further problem – now or later.
    I am sure all of us have had umpteen similar conversations. As customers, we curse when we are not heard, but perhaps forget the embedded lessons, making the same mistakes as marketers/ customer service professionals. Pleasing a customer isn’t really that difficult, as the bank manager perhaps understood.
    But before we ask ourselves what customers want, a moment’s pause about what do they NOT want?

    1. Don’t want apologies: Simplest recourse that every customer service person seems to resort to, not understanding that an apology doesn’t actually solve a problem and that the customer is not in a mood to listen ‘until’ the problem is resolved. Later she may be willing to forgive – but not right now.
    2. Don’t want to change partners: It’s painful to look for new partners, new relationships. Customers don’t want to change – they chose us, over others. They want to ‘stay’ unless they are really forced to change.

    Do we want to keep them? What do they really want?

    1. Want to be heard: Our executives (we) are in a hurry to get over with that call, to get on with the next. There may be a prescribed time limit or we’ve heard similar problems, so we don’t want to ‘hear’ it again. But the customer has a problem that she thinks is unique – it is – and she wants us to ‘listen’ first. She doesn’t want to be rushed, interrupted.
    2. Want us to acknowledge: The problem may or may not exist, but it’s real for her. Do we acknowledge that she may be facing a problem. Acknowledgment is the only way a customer is sure she has been heard.
    3. Want the truth: Often enough, even if we know of the problem, we don’t want to acknowledge, for whatever reasons – liabilities; media reportage; customer satisfaction scores. Telling the truth makes the customer a ‘partner’ and more manageable in my experience.
    4. Want us to sort out the problem: What are we doing about it, to actually sort it – other than recording the problem, passing it on etc.
    5. Want us to close the loop: The problem was resolved. Who informed the customer? She is waiting to hear from us!
    6. Want things to work: Customer, like us, are busy with their lives – they don’t want to bother us with calls and visits. They just want things to work as promised.
    7. Want to leave us alone! Only possible is things continue to work, as promised.

    What do you think? Add to this list on the comments!

    Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.

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