Having someone understand your needs, before you even do, is a pretty amazing feeling. The other day my husband and I were out for lunch and sitting on a very sunny patio. I had ice water and my ice melted at some point. I wasn’t paying attention to it much though as I also had wine. So, when the waiter brought me two glasses of ice, I looked at him confused. What was this for? Didn’t want to seem like a dummy though, so I just played it cool for awhile! Then I looked down, and realized ahh, my ice water is basically now bath water. He noticed that I had a need when even I didn’t. Now that’s good service.
Although bringing ice to someone who is no longer drinking ice water isn’t revolutionary, it’s anticipating a customer’s need. Showing your customer that you’re aware of a problem, even before they do, is huge. This is one of those, wow customer experience opportunities that turn into stories.
Imagine if your upholsterer realized that the piping they had completed on a sofa wasn’t contrast, but instead a self-welt. They alert you, assure you that they will work overtime to fix the problem in the time agreed, and get it out the door with a special gift sent to you as an apology. Or, the warehouse you usually use to store a client’s products has been having leaky pipes. They alert you of the situation and they’re concerned that it could damage some of the pieces. So they ask if it would be acceptable for them to move your furniture to another warehouse at no cost to you. Or, a contractor is aware that there are napping children in a client’s home and does as much work as possible outside to avoid waking them.
And just as your vendors can make your experience with them easier, you can do this with your clients as well. Take some time to think through common customer complaints or common areas of friction in your design process. Think through the most commonly asked questions in your first client meeting. What can you put in place to avoid these same problems, or address questions before they’re even asked?
Maybe it’s informing the customer from day one that most likely there will be issues, and that you know how to handle them. Or that yes, shopping for items you recommend is possible online. However, you’ve found it’s best for them to allow you to go directly to the manufacturer instead, as you then have a direct contact for any questions, concerns, customization possibilities, or problems. Or maybe one of your contractors does a phenomenal job, but customers have complained about their mess during the process. Ask the contractor to be up front with clients when he arrives that he does make a bit of a mess while working, but that there’s no need to worry as he cleans up his mess just as well as he performs his work.
Showing your clients that you understand the issues that may arise for them is a game changer. Whether it’s interacting with your business, going through the design and installation process, or simply doing a follow up, clients are comforted by the fact that you understand them. And when you can use your years of experience and expertise to fix a problem before they even express it, prospects become clients, and clients start telling friends.
Let me know in the comments below any time you’ve experienced a business anticipating your needs!