I talk a lot about the importance of building and nurturing relationships with your customers, and how this is key to success as an entrepreneur. But what does that look like? How can you actively work on building better relationships with your customers? A great place to start is by getting inside your customer’s heads. What are those indispensable things your customers want you to know about them?
Don’t you wish you could just get inside your customer’s heads and see exactly what’s going on in there? You’d be able to feel what they’re feeling. You’d have a deep understanding of those problems that keep them up at night. You’d know just what to say and when to say it.
Since you can’t literally get inside their heads, I’m going to help you get into their heads figuratively.
There are a few common things that all customers want. These “wants” are pretty standard across business types and target markets. There may be some things that I haven’t listed here that apply specifically to you and your business, but I feel like these are the most universal customer “wants” across the board.
8 Indispensable Things Your Customers Want You to Know
1. Your customers want to feel important
Recently I walked into my favorite neighborhood coffee shop for an afternoon Americano. There was only one other customer in the place, and the barista was busy making her a latte. So I stood at the counter, directly in front of where the barista was working, and waited.
I tried to make eye contact, but she never looked up at me. I knew she was busy but I just wanted her to acknowledge my presence.
It wasn’t happening.
Your customers want to feel important. They want to feel like they matter to you. Sometimes, they may even want to feel like they’re the most important person in the world, if only for a moment.
I wasn’t expecting her to stop everything and wait on me instead, I just wanted, at that moment, to feel like I mattered.
She could have easily said, “Hey, how you doin’? I’ll be right with you”, and that would have been perfect. I would have felt like I was important.
Your customers want to feel important. So do something, even something really small and basic, and make them feel important.
2. Your customers want to be treated like human beings
When you call Zappos customer service, a real person answers the phone in less than one minute. Seriously. There’s no phone tree menu, no recording, no buttons to push. A real human being simply answers the phone.
Zappos also encourages their service representatives to stay on the phone with the customer as long as it takes to resolve their issue. There are no rules or time limits. Zappos’ current record for the longest customer service call is 10 hours, 51 minutes. That’s just crazy, right?
What Zappos gets better than any other large company out there today is that their customers just want to be treated like human beings. They’ve taken something as fundamental as a customer phone call with a rep and turned it into a truly remarkable and unexpected experience.
Since when did treating people like human beings become the unexpected experience?
3. Your customers want you to listen
I was in the restaurant business for around 15 years. I did just about every job you can in a restaurant, from dishwasher to general manager. During the time working as a general manager here in Cincinnati, I took my family out to have dinner at a different restaurant.
It was not a pleasant experience. They said it would be a 30-minute wait, it took over an hour. They got our order wrong. When I asked a server to help us she said, “sorry, you’re not in my section.” It took forever to get the bill. What was supposed to be a fun night out with the family left me feeling unhappy and unsatisfied instead.
The next day, I sent the general manager an email. I outlined the problems we experienced and suggested some simple fixes from my own experiences as a general manager. I did not expect to hear back from him.
I was pleasantly surprised when I received a reply back from him a few days later. He said my email really hit home with him. He was struggling to fix some of the issues he was having with his staff and my detailed email helped spell out the problems more clearly.
He told me that he held a mandatory meeting with all of his servers and read my email to them. He then had them all sign it as a way of pledging to never let this happen again. He tacked the letter on the staff bulletin board as a daily reminder of what can happen if they don’t treat their customers right.
Yes, I had a bad experience at that restaurant, but when I voiced my concerns, I felt like I was heard. Your customers want you to listen. You’re going to make mistakes, that’s inevitable. But if you can show your customer that you’re listening and if they feel heard, you might just be able to turn around a bad situation.
4. Your customers want to be happy
It may not be obvious when someone’s calling to complain about an issue, but at the end of the day, your customers just want to be happy. They’re doing business with you because they believe that you can help them. They believe you can improve their life in some way. Your customers want to be happy, and they’re counting on you to help get them there.
In my story about the bad restaurant experience, I wasn’t writing to them just to complain, I was trying to be helpful. I liked that restaurant and I wanted to go back. I was hoping my words would resonate with the manager and their service would improve.
I wrote to them because I wanted to have a great experience the next time I took my family there for dinner. I wrote to them because I wanted to be happy.
Think about this the next time you’re dealing with an irate customer. Think about the situation from their point of view. Think about how your customer just wants to be happy. And then think about what you can do to help them get there.
5. Your customers want you to share their values
I love Chipotle. I love their food and what they stand for. With everything they do, they’re working to create a healthier and more sustainable food industry. This is a topic I feel pretty strongly about.
Chipotle’s values are my values. I do business with them because they believe what I believe. Also, the guacamole. ????
Think about your core values and beliefs and the things that your brand stands for. Your customers should share those values.
If you’ve done a good job of connecting with your target market, most of your customers will share those same core values and beliefs.
A great way to communicate what you stand for is by creating a brand manifesto and putting it on your website. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and share your values. It’s the best way to connect with people who believe what you believe.
6. Your customers want to be able to trust you
A few years ago I hired a landscape company to do some work at my house. I had not worked with this company before but they were referred to me by someone I knew and trusted.
On the day they were supposed to do the work, they never showed up. I called their supervisor and asked what was up. He said they had shown up earlier, but one of the guys broke his ankle while working on my yard, and they were currently at the hospital. He said he’d send another crew over the next day.
Well, the fact is, they were actually never here at my house. They didn’t feel like working that day and made up the story about the broken ankle. That crew was promptly fired.
The next day a different crew showed up. They did a horrible job on our yard. They actually ripped out all of the flowers my wife’s dad had planted for her.
This particular landscape company broke my trust in them, twice.
I really wanted to trust these guys, they came highly recommended. I gave them two chances, and they blew it both times. End of that story.
Your customers want to put their trust in you. They want things to work out. Because it’s a hassle when they don’t. But that trust can be easily broken when you fall short or don’t deliver as promised.
7. Your customers want your help
For just about every industry out there, your business is helping your customer solve a problem. Your customers want and need your help. They want your guidance and your expertise.
If you own a gourmet restaurant, you’re helping your customers by providing a memorable culinary experience. You might be helping them celebrate a special occasion like a birthday, graduation, or anniversary. They chose you to help them make their night special.
If you’re a physical therapist, you’re literally helping people to feel better. They don’t know how to get back to running after knee surgery. They’re going to you for help. They need you and your expert guidance in order to heal properly.
What are the big problems you’re helping your customers solve? What kind of help do they need from you?
8. Your customers don’t want to be ‘sold’ to
This is a tricky one, especially since I’m in marketing, but your customers don’t want to feel like they’re being ‘sold’ to.
I don’t mean you shouldn’t sell to your customers. What I mean is that your customers don’t want the sales process to feel ‘icky’.
As a marketing professional, I’m always trying to get smarter. I’m always learning new things. So I participate in a lot of online trainings and workshops.
I can’t tell you how many of these online presentations have a big hard sell at the end. “You must act now!” “This offer is only good for the next five minutes!” “You’ll never be able to sign up for this program again!” And so on.
It’s not unlike sitting through a timeshare presentation.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I’ve promoted a number of workshops, seminars, and now my mastermind groups with no hard sells. I do online trainings and I might send people to a landing page at the end to sign up for an upcoming workshop. But I never want my customers to feel pressured into buying anything from me. I never want the sales process to feel icky.
Sell your thing, yes, whatever that looks like for you. Just be sure that your sales process feels good to you. If it feels good to you it will feel good to your customers too.
A quick question you can ask yourself: Would you buy from you?
Why these things are indispensable
These things are indispensable because when you know them, you know what your customers want. Armed with that information you can create amazing experiences for them. Whether it’s a better customer experience on the phone, via email, in-store, or in person.
When you keep these things at the top of your mind when dealing with your customers you’ll be actively working on building stronger and more meaningful relationships with them.
Did I miss anything? What would you add to this list? Feel free to add your voice in a comment or a post in our Facebook group.