Meeting customers' expectations

To provide good customer service, you need to understand who your customers are and what they want.

Know your customers

Gather information about as many of your customers as possible. Try to find out what your customers are buying, why they are buying and the frequency of their purchases. When trying to understand their needs, it may be useful to know details such as their lifestyle, occupation and interests. Include any potential customers who have made enquiries about your goods or service. Find out more about researching customers.

Understand your customers' needs

Each customer will have a different perception of what customer service means to them. If you want to provide good customer service, you should know the needs of the customer and how to fulfil those needs.

Find out how your customers expect you to meet their needs. The expected level of service varies from marketplace to marketplace, industry to industry and, to some extent, from consumer group to consumer group. Research your marketplace and your target markets to find out what your customers expect of your business in your location.

Meet your customers' needs

Tailor your level of service to suit your customers' needs. Some businesses work well providing a 'no frills' basic level of service while others go beyond customer expectations to achieve a level of service to make their customers say 'wow'.

Some ways to go beyond customer expectations are:

  • introducing initiatives - for example, customer focus groups, customer survey cards or a suggestion box. These initiatives send a clear message to customers that you are interested in their input
  • suggesting add-ons - for example, 'Would you like batteries as well?'

Failing to meet expectations

When a business fails to meet customer expectations, customers do business elsewhere. Poor customer service and the perceived indifference of staff and management account for about 68% of customers who don't return to a business.

Customer complaints can alert you if your business is failing to meet customer expectations. Learn more about managing customer complaints.

Some actions you can take to improve customer service are:

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