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One Customer Experience Tip You Can Start Applying Today

WRITTEN by: Bill Sterzenbach |
categories: Business Growth

Jan 2017


Anticipation. Such a loaded word. We hear it, and we think of Christmas, birthdays, star-crossed lovers, and Carly Simon crooning about ketchup

Anticipation is often associated with a passive image of hopeful waiting or expectation. 

Today we're going to discuss a more active use of the word, as a powerful verb that changes our relationship with our customer.



Here we use the word in the more active form. You would expect this word to be close in proximity to the word "to" as in "to anticipate". Doesn't that have an positive feel to it?

When working with new customers/prospects on the phone, we can use anticipation as a tool to grow our business. Anticipating the needs of our caller not only speeds up call handling, it improves the impression our caller forms of our organization. What does it mean to anticipate?


What do Your Large Customers Have to Say?

Anticipation would be grouped in the category of "helpfulness". We interviewed a panel of top buyers of industrial products and services. When asked "what leads you to select a vendor in your organization?" here is the response we received from one respondent ($5.5bn in annual revenue)

"For new suppliers of a specialized or unfamiliar product, the supplier with the best customer service, communication, and helpfulness will always be the one purchased from"


What We've Got, Failure to Anticipate.

In listening to literally thousands of our customer's calls, we hear common patterns. One such pattern is the failure to anticipate our customer's needs. In the most basic terms, we're waiting for our customer to drag us through our selling process.

Here is a classic example:

Caller: "Where are you located?"

Customer Service: "I'm at our headquarters in Phoenix"

Caller: "Oh, I'm in Buffalo, do you sell here?"

Customer Service: "Of course, we have locations all over".

Can you see where the customer service rep could have improved the experience?

Here is a CXO (Customer Experience Optimized) version of this conversation:

Caller: "Where are you located?"

Customer Service: "We have locations all over the US, where would you like delivery, I can tell you the closest location".

Caller: "I'm in Buffalo"

Customer Service: "Yes! We have a location in Rochester near you"

In this example, the customer service rep can anticipate the need of the customer and answer the question they meant to ask rather than answering their question in the strictest of terms.

Here is another common example of using the anticipated understanding of a customer question:

Caller: "Do you sell direct?"

Customer service: "No, we only sell through distributors"

Caller: "Can you tell me which distributor I would need to contact?"

Customer Service: "Sure, where are you located?"

In this example, the customer literally asked "do you sell direct?" but they really wanted to know "how do I buy your product?".

My experience has been that one can identify the top 3 most easily anticipated questions in about 300 calls. It doesn't take terribly long to review and categorize 300 calls.

You may not even need to review your calls to identify the top 3 most easily anticipated questions. You may already know them from your experience working with your customers. Now you need only review the calls to determine if the questions are being anticipated. If so, excellent! You can move on to other CXO options.  If not, create a training plan today and execute it immediately.


Your Customer Wants You To Succeed

I suppose there is something to be explored in my earlier examples of anticipation as well. Your customers are hopefully, expectantly, and desperately waiting in anticipation of a positive experience with your organization. By and large, your customer is rooting for you, hoping for this experience to be memorable and repeatable. What are your anticipations?


We Can Help!

If you have a need to know your top 3 most anticipated questions, give us a call at 866.824.0287. We can setup an assessment and get you the insights you need. Setting up the tracking numbers, scoring systems, and reporting is fast and easy. Often we can have your insights to you in weeks.

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