Some items on this list might seem cynical, but they’re not. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what kind of customers you have. I don’t care if your customers are kidney donors or Zen masters or million-dollar contributors to your nonprofit organization. Each one of us has some less-than-loveable characteristics that tend to come to the forefront when we’re in the role of customer.
If you knew, really knew, these 50 things about your customers, and acted accordingly, you’d gain their trust and even their love. After all, who doesn’t want to be loved despite all our flaws and embarrassing insecurities? The better you understand both the noble and not-so-noble secrets in your customers’ consciousness, the better you can serve them.
Here are 50 things your customers wish you knew: about them, about how they see you, and about your relationship.
- I don’t need you to be perfect, but I do need to know I can rely on you.
- Telling me what you don’t know makes me trust you.
- It means a lot when you take the time to thank me for my business or a referral.
- You don’t need to do all that much to be a superhero. Just do exactly what you say you will do.
- A friendly voice on the other side of the phone means more than you can imagine.
- Your employees treat me about as well as you treat them.
- I don’t mind spending the money, as long as I feel I’m getting real value.
- My life is really stressful. If you can reduce that stress, you become immensely valuable to me.
- I want to tell you what would make this relationship better for me. Why don’t you ever ask me?
- I don’t understand a lot of the messages you send me. Can you make them clearer?
- My life is very complicated. If you make it easy for me to just buy a simple all-in-one package that I can use without learning anything, I’ll take it and be grateful. (I’ll even pay a premium for it.)
- I want to trust you, but it’s hard for me to trust anyone.
- Once you’ve won my trust and loyalty, the truth is you can screw up once in awhile and I will forgive you. If I don’t think you’re taking me for granted, that is.
- When I refer my friends and you give them exceptional service, that makes me look and feel smart. I love that.
- I spend an awful lot of time being scared to death.
- The wealthier I get, the more I like free stuff.
- A lot of the time, I secretly feel like a lost little kid. I don’t admit it, but I want to be taken care of.
- I’m lousy at admitting I was wrong, but I respect you when you do it.
- I like to get little goodies no one else is getting.
- I don’t understand how to use your Web site, but I can’t admit that because it would make me feel dumb.
- There’s no worse feeling than feeling like I was a fool for trusting you.
- Our relationship isn’t equal and it never will be.
- I get crazy jealous if I think you love another customer more than you love me.
- I don’t have any interest in your excuses. In fact, I usually don’t notice them at all, and if I do, they annoy me.
- I find myself endlessly fascinating.
- I hate salespeople, but I really like to buy things.
- I only like to communicate over the phone/Web/mail and I hate when you try to make me communicate with you over the mail/phone/Web.
- I want to buy your product, but I need you to help me justify it to myself.
- There’s something in my life I’m afraid of losing. If you can make me feel like you’ve protected it for me, my gratitude will be intense and eternal.
- I’ll give you anything you ask if you can help me not feel silly.
- I want you to do the hard work for me. Even better if I can get all the credit.
- I’d rather do it the convoluted hard way than learn something new.
- I’d love to know something about your product that I could use to brag at a dinner party.
- I have the attention span of a goldfish. Go too long without contacting me and I’ll simply forget you exist.
- Money is no object when it comes to my obsessions.
- What you think you’re good at is not what you’re good at. Ask me, and I’ll tell you what you do better than anyone else.
- I like it when I feel like you’re talking just to me.
- It infuriates me when you answer the phone while I’m talking with you face-to-face.
- Embarrassment scares me more than death.
- I’m lazier than I would ever admit.
- I’m more selfish than I would ever admit.
- I’m more vain than I would ever admit.
- I’m more insecure than I would ever admit.
- Despite all that, I secretly think I’m a better person than most people. Help me believe that and we’ll be fast friends.
- I believe I deserve much more than I’m getting.
- I want to tell you everything you need to know in order to sell to me, but I’m lazy. Make it easy enough and I will. (Especially if you flatter me a little.)
- I don’t know what I want most of the time. You need to figure it out for me.
- I mostly daydream about making life better for myself, but I’ll take action to keep from losing what’s mine.
- I believe that most of what’s wrong in my life is someone else’s fault. Let me keep that cozy illusion and I’ll believe anything you say.
- It really is all about me.
If you like this post, I’d love it if you shared it with your friends!
Flickr Creative Commons image by clairity
social network says
deserves to be digged.
Maria Palma says
I agree with Kelly, this is definitely a keeper and I’ll definitely be sharing it with my readers. Thanks for the inspiration 😉
James Hipkin says
Absolutely fantastic! The most succinct and thorough overview of relationship marketing I have ever read. And I’ve read a lot, Relationship Marketing is a passion for me.
Sonia Simone says
Thanks, all! I put a lot into this one so it is lovely to see comments.
James, you’re making me blush, which I love. Thank you!
This is the best list post I have ever read. I have read one million and four list posts. 🙂
Printing, enshrining, and keeping forever.
Tim Patterson says
Excellent post, you had me smirking and nodding along. Thanks! I’m adding you to my RSS.
(found you through copyblogger, btw)
Timothy Coote says
Yeah, this really is top shelf stuff Sonia. Number 26 is a killer and worth a post alone.
I’m certainly going to steal about half of these ideas to make my clients think I’m more intelligent than I really am;).
Keep the posts coming.
Good Advice says
That’s really good advice Sonia, thanks for that.
Naomi Niles says
I love this, so so true on them all. Thanks for sharing it!
Patsi Krakoff, The Blog Squad says
Thanks for this, I had to Digg it! Because of this, I changed the way I responded to a request for customer service. I realize my email was going to add to this person’s feeling of being technically challenged and foolish… my, my, how easy it is to commit these faux pas!
This is a great post, thank you. I’m going to link it from my customer-focused blog.
Sonia Simone says
Thanks all! So great to have you all here.
Molly Gordon says
Fabulous! The customer may or may not be “right,” but the customer is always the customer – and a human being. Seeing our work through their eyes is kinder to them and to ourselves.
Anthony Juliano says
Great list. I’ll add one more: If it’s important to me, you better at least pretend it’s important to you. I’d prefer that you think it’s important, too, but even pretending to care is better than not caring.
Karen Swim says
Printing, and laminating. This is an excellent list. Thanks for gathering all this knowledge in one list.
Carrie Watkins says
I’m only at #35, but I already want to print this out and post it on every bulletin board in my office. These are things we all need reminded of on a continual basis. Thanks!
Kathleen Gage says
Outstanding post. It’s so essential to know what our customers want. You have some great ideas and information here.
The Street Smarts Marketer
Adam Kayce says
Ditto, ditto, ditto. I almost never read list posts, and hardly ever make it through the first 10 items, but I read all 50 of these.
Definitely worth a Stumble, a fav, and a save.
Janice Gentles-Jones says
Wow! I don’t think you missed a thing. Thanks for such a great posts. It was very insightful!
What a wonderful post. I’m going to make it required reading for my staff – AND for me over and over again. Thank you!
Lisa Hughes says
This was a great post! I was originally searching for info about reading guests in the restaurant industry. I will be using this as a focal point in our training meeting! Thank You! Contact me if you are ever in NC.
En verdad es el mejor post que he leido. De mucha ayuda para entender lo que la persona al otro lado del telefono necesita.
Yep, you have “at least” one happy Mexican reader. Thank you for this GREAT post. I will print and keep this awesome list next to my phone and read it every morning.
Lynn Shepherd says
Communication is the essential ingredient in building relationships, personally and professionally. My favs are 8, 11, 14 and 20.
I would add:
Eye contact: let me know you are listening to me by looking me in the eyes.
Integrity: Fulfill your promises. Underpromise and overdeliver. Then I will trust you.
Intimidation: Don’t try to talk over my head to impress me. Making me feel stupid is not a way to gain my trust or my business. (Relates to your #39!)
Thanks again for sharing!
Michael@ Awareness * Connection@ says
Wow! It is amazing how much so many of these very much apply to psychotherapy and coaching though that was presumably at most a small part of your intended target. Number 19 is at least very often true, but would be unethical to respond to in literal way. I can’t, for instance, provide one client a lower fee based on them being more special.
19 reminds me though of Faber and Mazlish’s advice on sibling rivalry. Even if your child asks you directly if you love her as much as her sibling, hearing that you do, or that you have plenty of love for both of them, will not satisfy. And telling her you love her more isn’t a good idea for obvious reasons. But responding to your child in a way that communicates with specificity (including examples), even if only briefly, what is special, unique and lovable about her does exactly what is needed. Seems to at least figuratively to be true with counseling and coaching clients also.
This post is wonderful for its comprehensiveness and for its specificity. Nicely written and great concepts. I’m officially hooked.
Michael@ Awareness * Connection@s last blog post..Awareness * Connection Now Listed on AllTop, Shooting for 9Rules
Sonia Colon says
Great post! I couldn’t agree more. These 50 tips are right on the money.
Thanks for sharing. I will Stumpleupon this article!
Sonia Colons last blog post..5 steps to customer loyalty!
Sonia Simone says
Fascinating stuff, Michael. I can see this as being esp. tricky in a counseling situation, or any situation where a formal code of ethics guides the relationship, as opposed to a more “don’t be evil” ethos.
My least favorite phrase is “it’s just business.” People don’t leave their fears, hopes, anxieties, hot buttons at the door just because money changes hands.
Thanks for the Stumble, Sonia!
Michael@ Awareness * Connection says
Agreed. I think “It’s just business” says an awful lot about how the person saying it regards their relationships in the context of business…not very highly. Unless you’re Tony Soprano. Different spin on that phrase in that case.
Michael@ Awareness * Connections last blog post..Awareness * Connection Now Listed on AllTop, Shooting for 9Rules
Cristina Favreau says
LOVE this post. These are all points I wish sales people and service providers understood about me.
#35 is my fave “My life is very complicated. If you make it easy for me to just buy a simple all-in-one package that I can use without learning anything, I’ll take it and be grateful. (I’ll even pay a premium for it.)”
#47 is my second fave “I don’t know what I want most of the time. You need to figure it out for me.”
If service providers got just these 2 points… they’d have more clients, more work and more referrals than they can handle.
Now that you’ve tackled the “what”… we need to know the “how!”
Cristina Favreaus last blog post..How Compelling is Your 30-second Intro?
Cynthia Morris says
I love this post. It’s a great way to get ‘over there’ in my readers/customers’ minds. And, I love your writing voice – fresh, sassy, and smart.
I’ve been enjoying your Copyblogger posts and now have become a fan of your own site. Thanks for your insightful and excellent work.
Definateley one of the most powerful and insightful reads, I have to pass this along to all my sales people and business associates. So happy I found this article.
Another new fan,
Daniel Edlen says
I can’t write all those down by hand and stick them all over my wall! My wife’ll have a shit-fit! 😉
Great post. Very cool that people’re still commenting on it. Just great.
I would luv to learn the process from which you compiled this, Sonia! Did it come in pieces you later listed neatly, or did you sit down and begin writing them out? Please do share!
Fantastic, fantastic. Unique and usefun (useful + fun). 😀
Torleys last blog post..Seawolf dragon avatars have fantastic documentation
Janine Libbey says
I love Lynn’s suggestion about looking the customer in the eye. I recently had a person working in customer service who refused to look at me! Needless to say, I have told as many people as I could that customer service is an oxymoron at that particular Kroger.
Amadou M. Sall says
Truly remarkable post, Sonia. I’ve just posted it to my Translator Power blog with the following words: “Once you’ve read and internalized it, you won’t need any more marketing lessons or books, including my own ‘The Insider Guide to the Strategic Marketing of Translation Services'” 🙂
Amadou M. Salls last blog post..“50 Things Your Customers Wish You Knew”
Hunter Nuttall says
Found the ebook version of this in the Online Business School bonuses. Simply brilliant!
Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Why Jobs Don’t Need Core Hours
Sonia Simone says
Thanks Hunter! Glad to have ya here!
Steve Nickse says
Jeez – that is a good arrangement of insightfull thoughts. Every item could be expounded upon. I’ll be back.
Steve Nickses last blog post..My Home Office now has a Path
Donovan "DFitnessguy says
This is my first tme coming to your site. I found you when I was reading your Four Old-School Reasons Why You Can Thrive in this Recession post on Copyblogger.
I’m printing this post out as every single one of these really hit home. I run boot camps for women in Hutto, Texas and really want to take my communication with my clients to the next level.
Thank you for this post.
Donovan “DFitnessguy” Owens
Sonia, this is so good, so insightful I may have to tape it on the wall next to me. Damn, now there’s another blog I need to read (yours). How am I going to ever get anything done!
Jons last blog post..Avoiding Bizarro World
Sonia Simone says
Laughing. Thanks Jon! Don’t ask me how to get anything done, I find it a total miracle when I can cross anything off my list. 🙂
Excellent — and the list includes some items that few men would have thought of, or, if they had, that they would have dismissed (Me vulnerable? No way, man!)
Not at all cynical. On the mark and well done.
Wow, that is so spot on. Thanks for the reminder!
Laurie March, EvangelistaLA says
This is just fantastic!
You, friend, are a mind reader… in all the gory details. What amazing reminders of the things going on in everyone’s mind- especially our clients.
@Ribeezie sent me to your site, and I’m glad I came!
Janet Engel says
Great post and oh so true…I blogged on this very topic today and linked to your article..appreciate the reminders on this. These are “no-brainers” but often forgotten.
Steven Schaefer says
I have been in sales for over 20 years and I love it when I read articles like yours and really learn something.
Eugen Oprea says
Great list Sonia.
It made me think at lots of things I should do for customers.
Thank you for sharing this to us.
.-= Eugen Oprea´s last blog ..Frank Lloyd Wright =-.
Printing, enshrining, and keeping forever. Remarkable post, thanks for the post and those fantastic ideas.
Annabel Candy says
Spot on and so true! They sound like needy, insecure children:) Those clients do need to be nurtured and coddled!
Bonnie Hayslett says
One of the best posts I have ever read. I have a mobile pet grooming service in L.A., Ca. Everything was on point, but the one that had me laughing the hardest was #23. Yes, clients get jealous if they think you like another customer better. Now that I have read the list, I can point out to some of my staff(who always complain that I just have “a way” with people that they don’t) how to do better customer service.
Glenn Friesen says
The saddest part? Customers do say all these things to business-owners, but the owners just don’t listen. Good news? Those feigning deafness to reap profits will, eventually, assuming capitalism works, lose their customer to smarter, kinder, more thoughtful competitors.
Great post. :D)
.-= Glenn Friesen´s last blog ..WordPress; Curiosity; Google, Kansas =-.
Great, Sonia, my next email to a customer prospect will contain 50 items.
Glenn, re ‘kinder’ — now 100 years into car sales, the treatment may still beg for better. Could it be the 51st thing that some customers choose to be abused?.. Could it be a viable sales strategy to drop abusive customers?
Mark Henson says
Great post. Can I repost it on my blog and enewsletter? Will definitely link to it, but would love to publish the whole thing!
.-= Mark Henson´s last blog ..Is Your Job a TGIF or a GIFT? =-.
Tim Sanchez says
Love this post Naomi. I keep coming back to it as a reminder.
.-= Tim Sanchez´s last blog ..Put On Your Sunday Best =-.
Nathan Williams says
Absolutely great! I am going to print a copy and keep coming back to refer or add my own experiences.
spot on post. you are right 50 times.
Will Pena says
What is mind boggling is that customers sometimes feel all of these things at once. Its like being married – I have to figure out exactly what my spouse is needing and wanting, at every moment – or I will be in a lot of trouble.
I haven’t yet mastered the spouse thing- but my secret weapon makes her feel like I have. My secret weapon? Just ask. It works well with customers too.
Career Outlook says
Excellent post, I am going to convert it on pdf and save it on my desktop .
Limoges Jewelry says
Thanks for putting together this great list. Interesting read. We’ll try our best to keep them all in mind!
Eddie Gear says
Too much for me. May be I will get here later for another read.
Love this post, Sonia! You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head.
Really like this post because all of us forget at times to put ourselves in ‘their’ shoes. The other key is to remember to ask them from time to time, ‘what’s important for you here? how can we do better?’
Thanks for this.
Joseph C. McDaniel says
You have remarkable insight into the human condition. And more importantly, you are able to share those insights. Keep up the good work!
Anne Egros says
Great ! I needed this list to become more than just “good enough” and make my clients feel special
Steve Lawrence says
Sonia, you have been a favorite blogger of mine and an inspiration. I’ve been a 3rd Triber for 4 or 5 months. Thanks for that. Could I please repost your “50 Things” to The Lawrence Report. Every person who meets the public needs to read it and follow it.
Sonia Simone says
Hi Steve! That would be fine with me, just include my name and a link to the post. Thanks for asking. 🙂
Terri MacMillan says
excellent, and much-needed post. I just pointed my little community to it, as well.
thank you Sonia.
Amy King says
Sonia, you could not be more correct. As a customer, these are exactly my thoughts. As a business owner, I work hard to serve my clients the way I want to be served (but seldom am anymore). Thanks.
Plastic Storage Bins says
“A lot of the time, I secretly feel like a lost little kid. I don’t admit it, but I want to be taken care of.” Very True
Wow, one of the best blog posts I have read in recent memory. It has been printed and I will go over this with a fine tooth comb many times figuring out ways to apply this to my business.
Anne Samoilov says
Not only did I just read this list 2x – perhaps 3 on some items, but I applied it to 2 projects I’ve been working on – where I’ve suspected that something wasn’t fully connecting with my ideal customer. Putting products and services in a framework like this is absolutely crucial to keep you thinking as your customer. At some point during the second read through, I think I actually became my customer and could clearly see why I wasn’t buying from myself. Huh.
Anne Cossette says
What a fantastic list! Everything you mentioned is on point. I especially like how you wrote it in the first person through the eyes of the customer – it really creates a sense of compassion. While I love every point you made, I especially like #9: “I want to tell you what would make this relationship better for me. Why don’t you ever ask me?” Keen 2-way communication is so important in a good business relationship!
Great list, I shared it with everyone at the office (staff mailing lists are great). Its important to treat customers the same way you would want/expect to be treated.
Kirk Heiner says
That was a delicious cookie. I will definitely come back for some cake. Seriously, this was brilliant, insightful and I loved the voice of the customer in the article. Great job!
Jeremy Brown says
Echoing what Glenn said, it amazes me how often businesses don’t listen when their customers are telling them something. Maybe it’s arrogance, but whatever it is we are seeing a shift towards greater customer service.
I for one, am very pleased by this shift. We can all thanks social media for it.
The businesses that fail to see this shift will be the one’s that will be kicking themselves in the ass wishing they actually paid attention.
What an interesting read! I’ve often wondered from a customer’s perspective how they think, what they feel when dealing with you. Myself as a customer, I have certain expectations and standards. I would like to walk away with a smiling face and give them repeat business. So with these standards in mind from a consumer or sale level, I would set an example of what to do or not to do 😉 Stepping into their shoes for a change! Cheers.