What do Customers REALLY want??

Knowing what customers want and expect may be the most important keys in this tough market. Customers are bombarded with attractive offers all the time. They are hit with deals claiming to have better pricing. But those are not the factors that cause them to jump ship to another company. With today’s cutthroat competition from big business, trying to compete on price can be a quick road to ruin for a small business. But here’s a little secret you should know: contrary to common perception, customers will not go almost anywhere just to save a buck. In the end, it may be your service – not your price – that dictates whether or not you secure customers for the long term. Customers base their evaluation of suppliers on whether they have received the results, outcomes or benefits they were seeking.

Customers rely on their emotional experiences more than any anything else when trying to decide whether or not to stay with a company. It’s critical to understand customer perceptions and regularly collect feedback. Meeting their expectations is not enough. Customers want to know you care. They want a positive response when they run into problems or have serious questions. While a customer is making the buying decision, they want knowledgeable assistance available when they need it. Customers place a high value on accurate information and want to be served by employees who know the product and service inside and out.

What customers really want today is a superior client experience. Sure, they want good service, a good product, and a good price. But what creates client loyalty is the connection created by organizations through the use of these elements along with personalization, differentiation, and emotion. Research found that customers’ top ten priorities in determining their satisfaction are: overall quality of the product or service supplied, friendliness of staff, handling problems and complaints, speed of service, helpfulness of staff, handling enquiries, being treated as a valued customer, competence of staff, ease of doing business and being kept informed. Before a low price, decision makers have these six expectations:

  • An organization that can be trusted
  • A salesperson who’s honest
  • A salesperson who keeps promises
  • On-time delivery
  • Consistent quality, and
  • Products or services that perform as expected.

Notice that all six of these expectations depend on either the salesperson’s actual performance or the expectations that he or she creates about his or her organization and its products or services. Besides expectations, we also need to look at Six qualities buyers look for before thinking about price:

  • Knowledge. “Tell me, show me – everything!” Customers need to be educated and informed about our products and services, and they don’t want us leaving anything out! They don’t want to waste precious time doing homework on their own – they look to us to be their walking, talking, information central. They want salespeople who know the products or services that are being sold thoroughly and they value technical support.
  • Empathy. Customers need us to listen and respond to their problems and goals. Customers need to feel that we understand and appreciate their circumstances and feelings without criticism or judgment. Customers have simple expectations that we who serve them can put ourselves in their shoes, understanding what it is they came to us for in the first place
  • Organization. Sales people need to have the ability to break things down into smaller steps and organize a plan of action. They have to know how to analyze what their goal is and in what order the steps need to be in order to reach that goal. Buyers want salespeople who come prepared  and they strongly prefer salespeople who have written objectives.
  • Follow-through. Customers need to know who will follow through with what they’ve promised to provide, without having to constantly contact the buyer. After delivering a product / service or presenting a process to your customer, you should follow-up to see if their expectations have been met. This is not only good business practice; it also lets customers know that you care about their business and that you want them to succeed, even beyond the sale. If they are not satisfied, then you should show ownership and follow company procedures in trying to fix any issues they may still have.
  • Solution-oriented. Rather than just promoting an existing product, the salesperson focuses on the customer’s pain(s) and addresses the issue with his or her offerings (product and services). The resolution of the pain is what constitutes a true “solution”.Buyers want salespeople that present innovative solutions to problems and seek responsiveness and creativity.

 Meeting expectations are not enough

  • Come up with new ideas. You have expertise and knowledge. You know what’s happening in your industry, and you know your customers’ needs. Make a serious effort to share your thoughts. Try to help the customer get what’s needed. It will build their confidence and trust in you and your company.
  • Prove yourself – again and again. Some salespeople think because they’ve been around a long time, prospects and customers will automatically come to them first. But it’s more effective to act as if no one knows you or recognizes the value you bring. Strive to prove it every day.
  • Stay persistent and focused. Retaining your value in the minds of your customers requires persistence and focus. Customers’ needs change frequently, so try to avoid making assumptions about what they want or need. Ask yourself, “What’s happening to customers? What changes are taking place? What problems are they facing? What difficulties are they encountering in the marketplace? What are their opportunities? If you don’t have current, up-to-the minute answers to these questions, you’re in no position to meet their needs. The first rule is to stay in touch. Call frequently to find out what challenges customers are facing.
  • Think beyond customer problems. You may be doing a good job taking care of customers’ problems, but that’s not always enough today. It’s also the ideas, information, help, guidance and insight that you provide customers with that earns you the privilege of doing business with them. Initiate discussions that focus on their future needs, upcoming projects or areas of potential growth.

In today’s highly competitive market place, it is very important to realize that keeping your customers happy does not solely depend on price but quality of service and the development of a good business relationship. Overall, customers just want to feel good. They want to feel better after they’ve dealt with you or anyone in your business, than they did before. If you can create that feeling, then you’re well on the way to – giving customers what they REALLY want.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP


1 Comment

  1. The section on what customers want is useful for everyone selling today. Yes, price matters, but so do a host of other variables when customers select partners.

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