January 26, 2020

Jennifer Hanford

Comeback Corner: Do You Know What Your Customers Really Want?

Customer Service

We can all recall at least one horrible customer service experience in our lives. But how often do we actually “complain” to someone who can turn that negative experience into a positive one? According to a recent statistic, as many as 96 percent of us will say something about a negative experience to 15 friends, without speaking to anyone within the organization we are upset with.

So how can business owners determine what their customers really want so that they can avoid poor customer service in the first place? Let’s talk about a few things to consider for gaining more consumer insights. As a bonus, following the tips that I share will also help your business stand out from other companies within your industry.

Three Tips for Giving Customers What They Want

1. Make customers feel seen and heard to earn their trust.

Successfully competing in the market involves more than offering the best prices. Nowadays, potential customers are drawn in and compelled to stay when you provide top-notch customer service. At the very least, they expect to be treated with kindness and respect. And with a global average of 59 percent of consumers having higher expectations of customer service, sticking to outdated or ineffective strategies may put you behind your competitors.

One example from my own experience involves a local hair salon I used to frequent. A few years ago, the salon changed ownership, and most of the employees left. I had always enjoyed going there for haircuts, mostly because they were always friendly as well as skilled and affordable. However, the last time I went to this salon—which was the very last time I’ll go there—I stood up and left. Why? Because not one single employee acknowledged me, even after I had signed in. There were other customers there at the time, but it wasn’t busy by any account. There were also plenty of employees who weren’t working with clients. And so, after ten minutes of trying to catch someone’s eye while being ignored, I left and promptly found a new place for my haircuts.

To attract and retain customers, it is important to make each individual feel special by providing a personalized customer support experience. This is true whether you handle your customer service over the phone (remember the “smile and dial” method?), online, or face-to-face.

Another key to attracting customers and earning their loyalty is to cater to their needs. Being attuned to your target market’s customer care preferences can pay off for your business, too. Fifty-four percent of consumers say they make purchasing decisions based on a business’s customer support quality. Moreover, over 19 percent claim that quality of service is one of the biggest factors that influences their final buying choice.

2. Stand out from your competition with proactive customer service. 

I recently reviewed an amazing infographic titled, "Customer Support Wish List: What Your Customers Really Want," which shares a glimpse into what consumers look for in customer care support. In a nutshell, it’s clear that any kind of service—being greeted by name, getting recognized from past interactions, and receiving contextualized support, for example—is appreciated and makes a customer feel valued. In addition to this, implementing systems and technology that makes the process easier, more consistent, and faster will result in positive customer care support. Also, anticipating your customers’ support needs can give your business an edge over the other companies.

The infographic illustrates how various strategies leave positive impressions on customers. For example:

  • Creating a unified customer support system
  • Offering consistent solutions across channels
  • Being reachable through digital channels
  • Proactively providing information
  • Upgrading self-service options (such as through FAQs and portals
  • Improving workflow for phone support
  • Implementing chatbots

3. Communicate and interact to form stronger customer relationships.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that nurturing relationships with your customer base doesn’t end at the sale. That’s just the starting point. Excellent, consistent, and meaningful customer service is a must to keep them happy. The secret lies in listening to your customers and implementing their feedback to show that addressing their concerns is a top priority. Interaction is a huge factor, too; people tend to think you don’t care when you fail to interact with them in a meaningful way.

It’s Better for Dissatisfied Customers to Talk to You than about You

Following the simple measures that I shared above will help you to keep the lines of communication open with your clients. So, if they do have a negative experience, they will hopefully feel comfortable enough to tell you directly, rather than complaining to 15 (or 1,500!) of their friends. With that level of trust between you and your customers, you will have the opportunity to make things right again and reinforce their confidence in you.

Over to You!

Do you agree that a truly positive customer service experience can make all the difference when it comes to doing business with a company? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please feel free to leave a comment below!

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3 comments on “Comeback Corner: Do You Know What Your Customers Really Want?”

  1. Jennifer: The power of social media activities has an important role in the customer's experience and how the different parties (producers & consumers, sellers & purchasers, companies & clients, businesses & customers) could follow each other, during the journey of the (potential) buyer, and the business cycle / product / service life cycle.

    Do you have examples of small business companies with an outstanding customer service?

    All the Best,


    1. Hi Martin, I couldn't agree more. Social media has completely shaken things up in many areas, including customer service. Customers who may have been hesitant to speak out about their experience (positive or negative), find social media to be a "safer" place to share their comments. Thank you for your comment. In regards to small business companies with outstanding customer service...I am sure there are many, but I do not have specific examples. Would love to hear if you do. Thanks, Jennifer  

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