Sometimes customers just don’t know until after the fact


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Sometimes customers don’t know what they want until after they purchase. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Let me share an example from a recent purchase in our home.

Our microwave oven had finally given up the ghost, and it was time for us to replace it. While we had owned it, we discovered that it wasn’t large enough for some of our casserole dishes, and it didn’t have enough power to always follow the recommended times on food items for thawing or cooking. So my wife and I determined that we would ensure when it ever needed to be replaced, we would resolve those issues.

With these thoughts in mind, we went to the local store to see what was available and what we could find that met these basic needs. We found a model that met our color scheme in the kitchen, and discovered it had a display model out so we could see the features first-hand. Everything appeared to meet all of our standards, so we purchased it and brought it home. So far, it’s been a great addition to our appliances, and does everything we hoped it would.

However, I have discovered that the mechanism for opening and closing the door is really quite loud. This wasn’t something that was noticed in the store, even with a display model to check out, because the ambient noise level in the store was such that it wasn’t even considered by us to be an issue. But because I typically use the microwave early in the morning for coffee and breakfast while everyone else is still asleep, I am a little more hyper-sensitive to the door-latching noise to avoid waking up other family members.

Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that it’s such a huge noise, but it is something I think about every time I use it, and if I was to be surveyed on the product, that would be a detracting element that I would note. The machine itself works great, looks nice, and does everything as advertised and more (since it also has some cool features that I wasn’t aware of when I purchased it); however, for me personally, this latching issue is one thing that takes away from my experience in actually using the product.

Is it a deal-breaker, and something that I would return the appliance to the store over? Absolutely not; it’s a microwave, for Pete’s sake, not a grand piano. But I am illustrating this point simply to highlight the fact that no matter how well we set expectations with our customers, no matter how well we explain and represent how our products and services function, there will always be a select margin of folks who will have some personal issue with them after the sale. Some customers will make a bigger deal out of it than others, but we need to remain sensitive to the reality of their concern, and do our best to alleviate it if possible.

Their experiences with your services and products is what matters, and when we, as business providers, can learn to appreciate and embrace those concerns (whether we personally think they are valid or not), then we can truly provide products and services that meet the needs of our customers. This is the surest way to satisfaction and loyalty.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario to further illustrate: let’s say that a representative of the company showed up at my house next week and said, “Sir, we like to follow up with everyone who purchases our products, and we understand you recently purchased a microwave oven from us. How are you enjoying using your new microwave oven?”

Well, after I pick up my jaw from off of the floor because I can’t believe this guy showed up, I might say something like, “You know, the oven works great, looks great, and we use it every day. I just have this one issue with the door latch…”

“Issue? What issue?”

“Well, every time I open and close the door, it makes such a loud noise that I have a concern of waking up other family members early in the morning.”

“I see,” he would say. “Interesting you should point that out. It turns out we have discovered this issue from other customers who have told us the same thing, and we have created this latch-dampener to alleviate the issue for you. I have one with me and you can have it free of charge!”

Then, after he helps me up because I fainted out of shock, he would help me snap the latch-dampener into place, and be on his merry way.

Of course, the principle of this hypothetical situation is not as far-fetched as it may seem, and the more you can incorporate these kinds of actions and responses from feedback from your customers, you have a better chance of causing your customers to faint out of shock because they cannot believe how responsive you are. When that happens, you are placing yourself in the highest percentage of the customer satisfaction providers.

Just for fun…

“In the begining there was nothing and God said ‘Let there be light’, and there was still nothing but then everybody could see it.” – Dave Thomas

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Martorano
Steve has been on the front lines with customers for over 25 years. He is currently Director of Customer Services for Polygon Northwest, a real estate developer in both the Seattle and Portland markets. Steve is also the creator of, an online resource designed to provide insights and training to customer professionals across many industries.


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