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Learn to Anticipate Your Customers Needs

This morning I was having breakfast with my good friend Diane at one of my favorite breakfast nooks. I enjoy the atmosphere there although I've been less than pleased with the customer service so far.

This morning when we decided to go to breakfast, my mouth started watering for their delicious scones. They usually have 3-4 kinds available such as chocolate chip, blueberry and cranberry. I have shared these with my mom a few times and always love it with raspberry or strawberry jam and a "spot" of mint tea and honey.

This morning was no different. I knew exactly what I wanted when I got there. When it was my time to order I asked the waitress to bring some jam with my scone. Her answer totally put me off and I got defensive. She said: "well, we might have some jelly, but most people want raspberry or strawberry and I'm not sure if I can find any, so you might have to have orange".

The hot prickles hit the back of my neck and I got ticked! I'm the customer after all, paying you and I don't care if you have to run down the street to get the right jelly, I know you have it.. so FIND it!

My answer surprised her. I said, "oh NO, that won't do. I don't eat orange. You'll have to find me some of the other jams that I like". (I think I even said I HATE orange... to be extra dramatic! Okay, so it's a little over the top... but I didn't WANT orange! )

Long story short, she found the jelly. But we were both a bit upset throughout the process. I was upset because I'm a regular customer and I know what the restaurant offers. She was upset because I challenged her and strongly suggested that she serve me what I wanted? which meant she was going to have to work a bit harder.

Learning to anticipate your customer's needs means that when you find out that customers like a certain service, or a certain product more than others, then KEEP IT ON HAND. If they don't like a certain system or they don't like something that you offer, be willing to listen to the complaints and solve the problem first if you can. If you can't, then sympathize with the customer, explain and offer a different solution! Never just say "no" to a customer if you want to keep them coming back.

For the waitress this morning to be effective, she'd have to go the extra step and tell her management that she's noticing that they're running low on Strawberry and Raspberry jelly. She'd have to request that the manager order EXTRA of those and keep them on hand at all time. She would have needed to handle me by saying that she'd do WHATEVER she could to find the jam I requested, and if she was unsuccessful, she'd figure something out. (If it came down to that, then she should offer me free scone or something of that nature.)

Pleasing her customers will bring bigger tips and what else? The all important returning customer!!! The 80-20 rule is always in effect: 20% of your customers will give you 80% of their business. That means that you HAVE to learn to know what the customers LIKE so you can be ready.

What about you? Are you ready for your customers? Do you know what they'll complain about or what they want more of? Can you prepare in advance so you won't be caught off guard?

Learning what your customers want is important. But learning what they will want NEXT is the sign of truly outstanding customer service.

Mary Gardner, The Charisma Coach! is an Executive Communications Consultant and Trainer. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. Her topics are sales, customer service, teamwork, coaching and communications. She owned and operated one of the first coaching institutions on the east coast, CCI, in NYC, Philly and NJ. Mary has appeared on ABC's 20/20 and has self published a book on public speaking. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5, and lives in Orlando, FL.

Contact: mary@marygardner.com or WEB: www.marygardner.com

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