Is there anything in First, Break All the Rules about sales and marketing? You bet. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman identify four levels of customer satisfaction (pp. 128ff.).
What do customers want? The Gallup Organization (who Buckingham and Coffman have worked for) has interviewed over a billion customers. That’s a pretty good base. What the authors found was that even over vastly different industries, four basic customer desires kept popping up. These desires are in a hierarchy, so that certain expectations must be met before customers will pay attention to what else a company offers.
Level 1: Customers expect accuracy. For example, customers expect to get what they ordered and to be charged the right amount.
Level 2: Customers expect availability. Customers want businesses to be open at convenient times and to be adequately available (in enough stores or locations).
While these two levels are relatively easy to meet, the competition can do these easily as well. In addition, these two levels can’t actually create customer satisfaction. They can only prevent customer dissatisfaction. So if an organization is going to stand out, it has to offer more. That’s where levels 3 and 4 come in.
Level 3: Customers expect partnerships. Customers want to hear, “We’re on your side. We identify with you.” For example, when a video store has “staff picks” they are saying, “We’re like you. We watch videos too.”
Level 4: Customers expect advice. You’ve probably been on Amazon and had books recommended to you. I have found them to be amazingly accurate in identifying what I would likely be interested in. They are helping me save time and helping me get what I may not have even known that I need. The Home Depot does the same sort of thing with on-site training on how to install ceramic tile or stain wood. They are giving me advice, and good advice.
What works for Amazon or The Home Depot might not work for your organization. But in general, those who have the most direct contact with customers need to have the most knowledge of customer needs and how your organization might be able to help them in new ways they didn’t even expect.