October 15, 2017

Rachel Strella

How to Balance Customer Wants with Needs


In any business, there are times when we struggle between giving the client what they want vs. what will generate the best outcome for them. I encounter this dilemma often, primarily because people see something working for another business and they want to replicate that formula for themselves.

This is a slippery slope simply because every business is different. The service or product, the target audience, and the goals are not the same. A business that sells blinds would have an entirely different approach to marketing than a financial planner.

One of our core values is customer service, so we’re conflicted when a client has shiny object syndrome. Do we service the customer by giving them what they ask for?

When it comes to online marketing, many customers don’t know what they don’t know. I need to ask more questions to help them understand, beginning with ‘why?’

If a customer says they want to change the way we write blogs because they want better SEO, a typical conversation would go something like this…

Strella: Why?customer

Customer: Because they want to be at the top of search.

Strella: Why? Why is that important?

Customer: Because that’s how people will find us online.

Strella: Do you know if people are searching for the kind of service you offer online?

Customer: Well, no, but…

I am not an SEO expert, but I have learned enough about search to say that it’s doubtful that someone is using Google to find a company that offers life insurance or financial planning. If they are searching, it’s because they are doing their homework by checking out a company before deciding to contact them. These types of services are everywhere – and they usually start with a referral or someone we already know. To focus our efforts on SEO, would not be as fruitful as focusing on why someone should work with them.

If in doubt, I go back to the goals. What is it we want to achieve with social media? It’s easy to lose sight of the objectives, especially for those who grow inpatient waiting for the payoff from their marketing efforts. Social media marketing is not instant; it’s more of a drip, drip, drip…

For anyone who struggling with giving the customer what they ask for vs. giving them what they need, I’ve found it helpful to ask why – even if I have to ask five times.

Do you find it challenging to offer optimal customer service in your business because of customer wants? How do you handle it?

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