Today’s Kallum with a K Blog: When you speak to your customers, do you always give them what they want? Or do you give them what they need?
I’m not saying that customers are generally wrong, however, to challenge conventional wisdom: they are not always right!
Perhaps a better way to phrase that is: sometimes they don’t know what’s best for them so it’s your job as an expert in your field to help them solve their problem. Their REAL problem! And this may not be the one that is on the surface.
This may seem like we’re arguing over words or being pedantic, however, the difference between giving your customers what they really need vs what they want is wildly different!
Let me explain. Say you own a DIY shop and a customer comes in looking for some nails, the following scene may unfold like this:
Customer: “Do you have any nails?”
You or a member of your team: “Yes, they are two aisles down”. And if you’re at all interested in your work or in delivering a good customer experience, you may even walk your customer to the nails (well done!).
Customer: “Thank you”. You or your team member: “You’re welcome. Is there anything else I can help you with?”.
You or your team member: “Ok, have a great day!”
Customer: “You too!”.
End of conversation. (Perhaps I should really consider writing plays!).
What’s wrong with this encounter? Nothing, you may say! You helped your customer find what they wanted, you made a sale, and then you asked them if there was anything else you could do for them (and then ended with a cheery good-bye!).
However, what you didn’t know is why the customer wanted the nails in the first place…
because they didn’t tell you and you didn’t ask!
What if you had asked them why they wanted nails? Well, you would have discovered that they want to put a shelf up and were going to “nail it to the wall!”.
Disclaimer: this is a completely fictitious story and not based on any real-life experiences in particular (I know that the best way to keep a shelf up is to use sticky tape and chewing gum!).
If you had known what the customer really the nails for, you could have advised them that they wouldn’t work for the job they had in mind. You could have then suggested that instead they need to buy some brackets and screws to put their shelf up (and ensure it stays up!).
A simple question at the start of the conversation, would have enabled you to really help you customer:
by guiding them to what they actually need vs what they want (or thought they needed!)
How often do you think this happens in business?
The graphic designer who holds back on advising their client against the horrible red, green and pink logo that they really want because they don’t want to upset their client!
The accountancy firm which does just enough work to comply with the legal requirements for their client’s company without offering any proactive advice which would allow them to really grow their company.
And the cliched example: the handyman who re-papers your wall….but doesn’t fix the leak in the roof that is causing your wall to be damp in the first place!
If you are not using your expertise and knowledge to advise your clients, you are doing them a real disservice. In fact, you are failing them!
Do you seek to understand your customers real needs?
Do you ask questions to work out what they actually need?
Do you give your customer what they want or what they need?
Kallum with a K