Identify Customer Problems – Key to Success

“Customers only think problems – you have to provide their solutions.” – zenworkz

What would you define as great customer service – as a customer and as a business? We think that among all the factors that go into great service, being able to identify customer problems would probably be one of the most important. By problems, we mean the things that stand in the way of the customers and the achievement of their goals. Customer-centric companies would find it easier to identify customer problems, remove them and thus deliver top class value to their customers. Those companies that are able to do this consistently would find favour with customers, thereby encouraging repeat business and brand advocacy. It is natural for people to like and trust anyone who would not only perceive their problems but who would also make every effort to remove those problems and find ways to prevent their reoccurrence.

The basic premise of customer service would be a company’s ability to identify customer problems and provide robust solutions. These could be problems that a customer currently faces or the ones they anticipate in the future. This may sound simple, but both customers and companies would agree that this is a lot more complicated and tougher than it seems. The first step to solving a customer’s problem is being able to identify it. Without the ability to do so, customers would lose patience and trust in the company. We have discussed several times that customers now have far too many options to waste their time with a company that is unable to give them what they want and need. In addition, companies need to identify customer problems and solve the ones that customers would consider value-added.

However, before being able to identify customer problems, companies must take the time to ask and listen actively to customers as to what they perceive as the roadblocks to their success. Ensure that the company representatives chosen for this task have undergone training in this realm and have the requisite experience in dealing with the identification and listening of problems. They must make written notes on whatever customers tell them, such that there is no room for ambiguity or any chance of forgetting. This also enables the representative to ask intelligent and relevant questions that would lead them to identify customer problems with accuracy and would give customers a sense of satisfaction in the knowledge that the company understands them.

The smallest problem can disrupt the smooth running of a customer’s day-to-day business operations. There would be times when they would be unable to sort out or even identify the root cause of their problem and would expect that the company they do business with would be able to help. Even if the problem were not the result of a mess up on the part of the company, being able to identify customer problems and sort them out would go a long way in establishing leadership and building a strong relationship with customers. When customers face problems, especially the ones that threaten to disrupt business they would naturally be upset, angry and experience other such highly charged emotions. It should not be surprising if they vent their frustration on your company and company representatives should be equipped to handle such outbursts. Once customers have been able to vent, the next step would be to put them at ease by displaying understanding and empathy for their problem, which would serve to calm them. Post this customer would be more amenable to help your company to not only identify the actual problem but also would cooperate in finding the best and most effective solution.

As mentioned, to identify customer problems, does not simply mean showing them the problem – it includes allowing them to show their irritation prior and finding the most appropriate solutions post identifying the problem. Such service would ensure that companies have a customer base that is loyal, profitable and extremely likely to encourage others to do business with the company.

Even better than being able to identify customer problems consistently, would be the ability to serve them in a way that eliminates as many problems – current and possible. This would include attentive service; value added content and information, good quality products and speedy responses. However, even with the best of efforts, it would not be possible to do away with all problems given that customer needs change, the business environment seems to be in constant flux, and there would always be situations that come about unexpectedly, causing problems. The next best thing to do then would be to help identify customer problems such that the best solutions come together speedily.

Companies need to better their service to customers consistently. In order to do so, it is crucial to remain connected with customers even when things seem happy and under control. Companies must take the time to ask their customers questions that would help them to ascertain any unidentified problems now and in the future. By keeping customers engaged, companies stand a better chance of building a personal connection, allowing customers to trust them with more information, thereby making it easier for the company to put together tailor-made solutions of possible issues. Customized solutions are better equipped to address a particular issue with higher chances of success. The fact is that customer-company relationships have now acquired a much broader significance and go beyond the realm of just the association. A company’s ability to identify customer problems is possibly one of the best ways to build and retain customers. This ability shows them that your company cares about them and would do whatever it takes to keep their business – even if it meant going over and beyond the business relationship. The following quote by Zig Ziglar clearly illustrates what customers expect:People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

The key to being able to identify customer problems lies in an in-depth understanding of the customer – their business, what their pain areas are, what works for them, their emotional and personal needs, the trends within the industry they operate in and other such specifics. Understanding the customer will enable companies to communicate with them in the way that customers would understand and provide them with customized solutions for the best results. The phrase identify customer problems does not literally mean only that – it encompasses showing customers that your company is the best partner for them and a long term association with your company would help their business to succeed.

In trying to identify customer problems, companies must remember that it is not only about detecting problems, but also ascertaining when the problems occur and their impact on the customer’s business. A more acute and burdensome problem, the value of the solutions is a lot higher and companies would find it easier to get companies to accept the answers they provide. No one likes to or wants to experience problems and this is completely true even for businesses. The aim of running a business is simply to gain maximum profits with the lowest possible costs. Companies that can find ways to help them with them achieve this goal while alleviating their pain and problems will always find customers, get increased business and have brand advocates ready to encourage others to do business with them.

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