“What do my clients need?”
It may seem like a simple question, but this is one of the most important queries you can make. Seeking to learn about your clients and truly understand their needs shows that you care. It shows that you desire to go above and beyond as you push through the obvious to uncover those hidden needs that tend to get lost in the shuffle. And meeting those needs has the potential to take a relationship from just good to simply great in the blink of an eye.
Here’s the thing though, it is often easy to forget to ask in the first place!
Why? Because we naturally assume that people will be open and forthcoming as they share with us what we can do, how we can help and, in many cases this may be true. But what if it’s not? What if we are missing the forest for the trees? When this happens we are missing the opportunity to truly partner with our clients as we seek to make their businesses thrive.
So, we challenge you. What questions are you asking? How are you digging into these key relationships to uncover any hidden needs that may not seem apparent at first glance? How are you going above and beyond for your clients?
Today, we want to help you with this challenge and give you a few steps designed to work through this process. And, while we understand that there are many types of needs assessments and methods for uncovering hidden needs, we are choosing to share this simple approach because it can be applied to almost any situation.
Step One: Ask the Right Questions
It is extremely easy to fall back to the default, “What do you need from me?” and, while this may be on your list, don’t let it be your one and only. Think about asking questions like:
- What is causing stress in your process?
- Do you feel like there are certain steps that could run more smoothly or efficiently?
- What has frustrated you in the past?
- What do you want the next 12 months to look like?
Step Two: Listen Between the Lines
Questions like the ones above push past the obvious and encourage people to share. They are designed to be very open-ended and would be hard to answer with a yes or a no. A great open-ended question can be one of your most effective tools. This type of inquiry stimulates your client to start talking and the more they talk the greater your opportunity becomes. So be quiet and listen! Actively listen to what they are saying and even take notes. You’ll need them in a minute.
Step Three: Look for Patterns
As you work through your questions, start looking for patterns. If your client keeps bringing up the same topic or issue time and time again, then it is likely that you have found one of their pain points. Recognize these patterns for what they are and spend some time researching solutions. It may give you the opportunity to offer the truly exceptional customer service we all strive for.
Uncovering needs are not always the simple process we anticipate it to be. But, taking the time to ask the right questions, listen to the answers and then identify possible solutions can be an extremely rewarding process. One that allows you to shine as a professional when you become the one person who can eliminate a problem they did not even realize they had!