February 3, 2014
Customers have two types of basic needs. Unfortunately, it’s the most important need that often gets overlooked when dealing with these customer needs.
The first need is rational. A rational need is the specific service a customer is requesting. For example, a customer might call a software company for technical support because they can’t get their software to work properly.
The second need is emotional. An emotional need is how the customer feels about the situation. They might be frustrated that the software isn’t working. Perhaps they’re anxious because the problem is preventing them from getting important work done.
Customer service reps are usually good at spotting rational needs, but emotional needs are easily missed. That’s because the rational need is connected to action. Helping the customer fix their software is what the technical support rep does. The rep doesn’t feel the customer’s emotions, so they’re more difficult to spot.
Here’s the rub
It’s the emotional needs that can make or break the customer’s experience. If the technical support rep can successfully validate the customer’s frustration by empathizing with them and then reassure the customer that they can help them, the customer will likely feel better. On the other hand, the customer won’t be happy if their software gets fixed but they’re annoyed and frustrated by the process.
Research conducted by Bård Tronvoll at Hedmark University College in Norway reveals that 97 percent of service failures also result in negative emotions for customers.
These negative emotions must be addressed since it’s ultimately how customers feel about your service that determines whether or not they’ll come back. For example, a survey of airline passengers whose flights were cancelled showed that how the cancellation was handled had more than twice the impact on customer satisfaction as the cancellation itself.
Spotting and reacting to customers’ emotional needs can take a little practice. Here are three techniques that can help you develop your skills.
Identifying and taking care of your customer needs emotionally isn’t always easy, but it’s a skill that can help elevate your customer service and leave a lasting impression.
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