Anticipating Problems and Questions a Key To Customer Happiness

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 5:19pm

 When it comes to making customers happy, there's no single answer that leads to customer happiness. The best way to make sure that you’ll be able to keep customers happy is to concentrate on two areas – anticipating problems and anticipating questions.

If you’ve ever played chess, you know anticipating your opponent’s moves is one of the key elements to winning the game. By the same token, anticipating problems and anticipating questions is a vital element to keeping customers happy and satisfied.

Problems are always going to arise. If you’re in business, you understand that basic principle. One thing most successful businesspersons do is anticipate problems. Bob Parsons, the CEO of, knows that his customers are going to be extremely upset if his website servers go down. So, if he anticipates the problem of the servers going down, he can also take pre-emptive measures, such as making sure there are backup servers ready to be put online.

Study Areas
With something such as website maintenance, it’s easy to anticipate one of the more obvious problems. But, what if you’re not
Bob Parsons and you don’t have an online-only business? What if you’re involved with manufacturing? What can you do to anticipate problems?

You can study each area of your business and just consider what might possibly go wrong with that area. Then, you can mentally prepare for ways to fix the problem and then build those fixes into your system. Even something most people think you can’t anticipate for, you can. A sudden storm might cause your employees to be unable to make it into work, resulting in a work backlog, as well as customer dissatisfaction. Now that you’ve voiced the possibility, find a way to organize a counterplan in case it happens.

Anticipate Questions
When you find a situation arising that catches you by surprise, you need to put yourself in the customer’s place. Ask yourself what you would ask if you were the one needing information? For example, if there’s a work backlog, most customers would probably want to know when they could expect things to get back to normal.

Rather than having to tell the customer that you’ll look into it and get back to him or her, you can do the research necessary (when the problem first arises) and try to have everything prepared for the questions that come. Naturally, there are times when you’ll not immediately have those answers, but the more questions you can answer for your customer right away, the happier they’ll be.

Provide Additional Information
Part of anticipating problems and questions is determining what information you need to provide. Rather than simply having the answer to questions you’re asked, you need to try to determine what other questions might come and have those answers ready, as well.

Going back to the the servers at GoDaddy, Bob Parsons probably knows the most asked question will be “When are the servers coming back online?” However, he also might be asked, “What kind of discount are you going to provide for this inconvenience?” Having an answer ready can prevent most kinds of bad public relations.

By examining areas where problems might occur and by anticipating those problems, you’ll find that you’ll be in a strong position to defuse tense situations with having answers ready.