Service Leaders Anticipate Needs

June 06, 2008

After being in the hospitality industry for 9 years, I have a pretty good sense of what makes great service people. Most often it’s a combination of caring and leadership. If your business or job is in customer service (which one isn’t?) then proactively developing a program or process to anticipate the needs of clients is critical.

Great leadership in service is about recognizing what a customer would likely need next and suggesting it to them in advance of them having to ask. Ever stay at a hotel where you have had to call down to the front desk repeatedly? Have you ever been to a restaurant where you are constantly asking for attention with a Miss? or Sir? It is the norm more often than the exception.


So what is the solution? Start to look at how you interact with your customers every day and build a list of moments or steps where you can anticipate their needs.

  1. Start simple by making a list of what your clients are asking for everyday - just observe and document.
  2. Review each of the major steps in your customer’s interaction with you and your business - what are the logical peripheral needs at each step? For example, when a customer gets a proposal that is quite technical, it should come with a glossary of technical terms and links to sites they may want to reference.
  3. Get creative by asking clients and brainstorming with others about what else you could offer. Clients come to the office and you offer coffee or water - what attention is paid to other choices, the mugs, the condiments, the details of each step?
  4. Most importantly, start to implement these things! Evaluate the cost of each new idea first. Then look at bringing one new idea into the program each month - you need to manage how much change clients and staff can incorporate into their routines comfortably. Build that extra service into the process so it’s standardized.
  5. Ask for feedback on each new step and ensure people are loving it.


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