Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Identifying the most important need, part of Innovative Customer Service Techniques.
- Think about your favorite place to be a customer. Why is it your favorite place? Our best experiences are connected to positive feelings. We feel important, cared for, or perhaps a sense of belonging. In this video, we'll explore ways to create similar experiences for the customers you serve. The starting point is identifying your customers' two basic needs: rational and emotional. Rational needs refer to what a customer actually needs done. For example, a customer experiencing a billing issue wants to get the billing issue revolved.
Emotional needs refer to how a customers wants to feel about their experience. A billing issue might cause a customer to feel frustrated or angry, but a good customer service rep will make the customer feel relieved and listened to. Most of what happens in customer service is geared towards addressing the customer's rational needs. How may I help you? What seems to be the problem? Is there anything else I can do for you? This focus makes it easy to overlook our customers' emotional needs. The secret is that emotional needs are far more important.
If a customer feels good about their experience, but don't get what they want, they still feel good. If a customer gets what they want, but doesn't feel good about the experience, they'll feel bad. This is particularly important when serving an upset customer, because our emotions can sometimes override the rational part of our brain. If you've ever made the mistake of telling an angry customer to calm down, you've seen what happens. Instead of calming down, the customer usually gets even angrier and harder to talk to. That's the emotional side of the brain taking over.
In situations like that where a customer's upset, try to help the customer feel better before you address their rational needs. You can use the acronym LAURA to help generate ideas. Listen to the customer so they feel heard. Acknowledge their feelings so they feel validated. Try to understand their feelings so you can find a way to relate to them. And finally, act to solve the issue and help the customer feel better. Angry customers aren't the only situations where emotions are important.
Our ultimate goal is to help our customers feel great, even if there wasn't a problem. Here's an exercise to help you focus your attention on your customers' emotional needs. You might want to pause the video to download the What's My Job Worksheet for this exercise, or just get a blank piece of paper. Okay, are you ready? In the column on the left hand side, write down a few of your job duties. These are the things you do to take care of your customers' rational needs. Here's some examples. Someone in technical support might say they help customers solve computer problems.
A restaurant server might say they wait tables. Or someone who works in an accounting department might say they provide internal customer service by preparing financial records for managers in their company. The next step is to fill out the column on the right, describing how you'd like your customer to feel. Someone in technical support, well, they might focus on helping their customers feel relieved that a problem is solved, or productive because they can use their computer more effectively. A restaurant server might focus on making their guests feel welcome and relaxed while they enjoy a nice meal.
An accountant might focus on helping company managers feel confident and intelligent, because they have the data needed to make good business decisions. You can put this into action by trying to help your customers feel the positive emotions you identified in this exercise. Now remember, emotional needs are more important than rational needs. That means there may be times when you can't give a customer what they want, but you can still make them feel better.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Identifying the most important customer need
- Making wait time more bearable
- Improving your power of observation
- Avoiding directed attention fatigue
- Increasing teamwork