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I was pondering the content of this blog post today, which initially involves a lot of staring into space, adopting a serene Zen-like state, completely vacating my mind, and trying to isolate what has particularly moved me in the past week.

During the ‘staring into space’ phase, I found my eyes focused on my dog, a four-pound sassy Yorkie who was perched not on the fluffy bed I purchased for him, but on the carpet instead, as close as he could possibly get to me without actually laying on my feet. He’s a rather clever creature, sneaking up as he does, and he truly has it made.

I couldn’t help but wonder how marvelous it would be to have my only cares in the world be my next meal, plenty of outdoor time, and the occasional sock to chew on. Wouldn’t that be the life? Well, maybe for a few hours…I’m sure I’d suffer immediate withdrawal from my computer, my smartphone, and my daily infusion of diet soda.

It also got me thinking about the whole concept of anticipating and meeting needs. Pet owners and parents are experts in both of these areas. We provide our pets and children with things they cannot provide for themselves, and our reward is usually appreciation, love, affection, and the knowledge of a job well done. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like all of that.

It’s such a great analogy to the delivery of exceptional customer service in the business world. When we provide our customers with something they cannot provide for themselves (help with an online order, finding a lost shipment, scheduling an important service appointment), we get rewards, too, in the form of thanks, positive feedback, and ideally, lifelong loyalty.

It’s no surprise that anticipating and meeting needs are huge differentiators and they’re present in abundance in companies that truly “get it” when it comes to maximizing the service they deliver to their customers.

Anticipating needs is all about putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Let’s say that you were impacted by Hurricane Irene and your basement is waist-deep in water. If you were that customer – stressed, at the end of your emotional rope, and desperate for help –what would you want from the service representative at the other end of your phone? You’d want someone who was really good at anticipating your needs, someone who would not only arrange for the water removal, but also took the time to ask if they could provide you with referrals to drywall, electrical, and carpet specialists who could help put your basement (and your life) back in order again.

Those who are good at anticipating customer needs don’t come by this skill accidentally. It’s a conscious thought process where you have to ask yourself: “What else could I do for this customer that would help solve their problem in ways they never thought possible?”, “What else in the basement could be ruined or compromised in the flooding?”, and “What more could I do to go above and beyond for this customer?”

Here are some key questions to ask when you’re anticipating needs:

  • Have I addressed all of the questions that were asked of me?
  • What else could I do that would help solve this problem thoroughly and completely?
  • What more could I do to go above and beyond for this person?
  • Am I missing anything?

Meeting needs is an equally vital component of service delivery success. It’s about delivering on your promises – all of your promises. Just like your pet or child is going to know if dinner doesn’t materialize when it should, your customer is going to know if that order was never placed or that appointment was never scheduled. Failing in this aspect of service delivery is not a pretty picture as we all know from experience, and it’s something that is completely avoidable.

Those who are good at meeting needs act with intention and have a conscious desire to do the job right. After having anticipated the customer’s needs and secured the customer’s consent to move forward, the service representative formulates an action plan, puts that plan in motion, and then follows up to make sure that everything happens according to plan. In the case of our flood victim, the service representative notes all of the services the customer will need, schedules a time for the water to be pumped out, arranges for other contractors to be contacted, and then follows up in a reasonable amount of time to ensure that the customer’s needs have been successfully fulfilled. Only at that point is the work of meeting needs finished.

Here are some key questions to ask when you’re meeting needs:

  • Have I noted all of the steps I need to take to fulfill this request?
  • Have I put the wheels in motion to make sure that it all gets done?
    Have I followed up on all of the steps so I am confident that they are completed and closed?
  • Am I missing anything?

The great thing about anticipating and meeting needs is that it’s a skillset that is totally transferrable and highly prized in customer service organizations, whether you’re helping a customer, client, boss, or co-worker, so never be afraid to take your service delivery to the next level. I can tell you from personal experience that the rewards are well worth it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Teresa Sinel
Teresa Sinel is the Director of Operations, Analytics and Innovation for VIPdesk, the award-winning pioneer of home-based virtual customer care solutions for global brand leaders committed to enhancing their brand experience. Serving over 40 client programs and 10 million customers, VIPdesk specializes in delivering Concierge Programs, Contact Center Services, and loyalty programs for national brand leaders in the travel, auto, financial services, real estate and retail industries.


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