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So, What do Customers Really Want?

Guest Author

October 13, 2020  •  5 min read

Businesses can be left chasing their tails when it comes to trying to satisfy their customers. They look closely at their products and services and scratch their heads on how to make them as customer-friendly as possible. They might consider their customer demographics, carry out research, request customer feedback in the hope of a decent snapshot of how to appeal to them. Then they look at competitors and wonder ‘Should we be doing that?’

Every business wants to give great customer service and give customers what they want, but is what they were doing and saying last year, or even last month still relevant? How do they constantly stay relevant? Do they need to suddenly change their approach in a global crisis?

I recently helped answer these questions on a Sprinklr and Twitter webinar.

During the webinar, I discussed how real customer needs are simpler than we think and once we all know the fundamentals of what customers really want, things start to happen intuitively. Joined up and actionable data is suddenly a no-brainer. Listening to what customers are saying in unstructured conversations outside of what businesses ask them starts to make sense.

Finally understanding what moves us all means that taking a front seat to listen to what people are saying, in places where they are comfortable, creates a valuable story.  When businesses hear customers’ thoughts and feelings in places like social media, delivered in an unprompted way, true innovation and game-changing decisions can start to happen.

It’s all Getting a Bit Emotional

The bottom line is that we are all irrational, emotional beasts. In fact, 95% of all of our thoughts and actions are driven by the subconscious.

If our actions were driven by conscious, rational thoughts, then 96% of us wouldn’t stop using a business purely based on poor customer experience, irrelevant of price and other product and service-related benefits.

You see, we’re all driven by quite a basic set of needs. Needs that remain constant, regardless of industry, product or service. And this is also regardless of where they are in the customer journey.

All it takes is for everyone in the business to understand these needs and apply them everywhere, then delivering on customer needs becomes much more straightforward.

A Simple Solution

Just like finding and keeping the best relationships, deciding to engage and stay with a business involves in-the-moment, subconscious, emotional decisions, each of them falling out of the same 3 questions:

  • Do I like and trust you?

  • Do I matter to you?

  • Will you make my life better?

The way you make these needs unique to your business is how you translate each one in your actions, your words and your behaviours.

Here’s how they work.

Customer Need 1 – Do I like and trust you?

Just like chemistry and motivation, this seems like that elusive thing that’s impossible to master. To simplify things, this need requires two key ingredients:

  • Talk like your customers

  • Be authentic and real

This is where you need to get your personality game on.

Talk Like your Customers

Here, you need to be relatable. Ditch your formal, get personal and don’t get too hung up on your brand tone of voice, especially when you’re in conversation.

You need to be using the same language that your customers will typically use. So if you want to say sorry, say sorry – not “We apologise”. Don’t start an instruction with “Please note that…” and don’t call a mess up an “Inconvenience”.

If you want your customers to like and trust you, you need to be like them.

Be authentic and real

No smoke and mirrors, no clichés. Don’t say you’ll deliver something unless you’re going to nail it in a way that customers will notice, otherwise it’s meaningless and it’ll disengage your customers.

Here are some commonly used clichés that so many businesses use. Do you think they’ll differentiate them? Do you, as a customer, believe them to be true:

  • ‘High quality’

  • ‘Lowest prices’

  • Excellent service

  • ‘Friendly team’

  • ’Your call is important to us’

  • We’ll get back to you as soon as we can

Customer Need 2 – Do I Matter to You?

Again, to make this simple, this takes two key ingredients:

  • Acknowledgement – that you’ve understood what they need or that you’ve made a mistake

  • Reassurance – that they’re on the right track and you’ve got their back

It may only take small changes in your approach to get this right, but the impact in the way customers respond when you apply this is phenomenal, especially when your customers are angry.

Customer Need 3 – Will you make my life better?

There are two ways that all of our lives can be made better:

  • Gain Self-esteem

  • Eliminate worry, doubt, or inconvenience

That’s fundamentally what we’re all about in every element of our lives and it’s what underpins all of our needs. Applying this to your business, means that you will make sure your customer journey is really clear, they’ll feel welcome and cared for and you will work tirelessly to avoid customer pain.

Perspective is key. These are emotional needs. For this to be successful, the focus must start with the customer. Get this right and business benefits, like sales, retention and lower costs are a natural outcome.


Tracey Finlay featured as a panelist in Sprinklr’s recent virtual event: ‘Twitter & Sprinklr present: Deliver amazing customer care without upsetting your CFO.’  To learn more about Tracey’s recommendations for delivering exceptional customer care, please register to watch this virtual event.

Tracey was also a recent guest on Sprinklr’s Coffee Club with host Marshall Kirkpatrick – watch the replay here.


Tracey Finlay founded Business EQ over 10 years ago, driven by her fierce passion to disrupt traditional approaches to customer and employee experiences, particularly in the world of Contact Centres. Historical clients still refer to the ‘Tracey Effect’, due to her wisdom and focus on emotional intelligence within customer service. 

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