It’s morning and you’ve just had breakfast. What are you going to have for dinner? 49% of people in the U.S. do not know what they are going to have for dinner. That stat comes from David Portalatin’s address at the Art of Beef Summit, sponsored by Cargill. As he was addressing foodservice executives and salespeople, he emphasized that not knowing what’s for dinner, just hours before consumers are supposed to eat it, is a problem. Not for the foodservice people, but for consumers. They don’t know what they want, and whether they know it or not, they are looking for help. Not necessarily in the form of a plea for help, but in the form of wanting an easy and convenient way for them to decide what they are having for dinner.
So, the customer’s problem becomes an opportunity for smart people in the food industry. Grocery stores are seeing an increase in numbers of their ready-to-eat meals prepared with fresh ingredients. Companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, who deliver ready-to-prepare fresh meals, are seeing increases in sales. Then, of course, there are restaurants that make it easy. When the kids ask mom or dad, “What are you going to make for dinner?”, the most convenient answer when they don’t know just might be, “Reservations.”
The point is that these businesses aren’t just selling food. They are selling the solution to the problem of not knowing what’s for dinner. A grocer may sell food, but what the customer may want is the family dinner. A family taking dozens of pictures every day while on vacation isn’t looking to have a bunch of photographs. What they are after are memories.
Once you understand the “why” behind what you sell, you’ll start to be able to solve your customers’ problems. Questioning the “why” behind the “what,” you get a better understanding of what’s driving decisions, and as a result, can create a better customer experience.
Why does a person want a fancy red sports car? What’s driving that desire? Is all they want transportation? No. There is more to it than that. It might be congruent with the customer’s lively personality.
You may or may not know I’m hired to do keynote speeches at conferences around the world. Why do my clients want a speaker? Is it just the information? Absolutely not. If all they wanted was information, they would buy everyone a book. One of the first questions I like to ask my client when they are interested in having me speak is, “Why do you want to hire a professional speaker for your conference?” Another question is, “Why is the topic of customer service or customer experience important for this audience to hear?” The answers give me great insight into solving my client’s problems and needs for a program that will meet (ideally exceed) their expectations.
So, next time you are engaging in a conversation with your customers, think not just about what you’re talking about, but why you are talking about it.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or . For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken