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What Do Customers Really Want? Survey Reveals the Truth

Aug 15, 2008
It's a question we should always ask and yet we often find so difficult to answer. How an organization handles this question (and the answers) will determine its ultimate success. Because if you consistently offer your customers what they want (at a price they feel is fair) you'll have all the customers you can handle.

Recently, I surveyed about 2,000 people on this topic. They came from all over the USA (32 states). I asked them all this question:

"When you are a customer, what do you want?"

When they answered, I listened. I kept track of what they said and I tabulated the results. I removed results that had to do with specific products or services because I was looking for information that would be helpful across many industries and organizations.

So, without further ado, here are the results of the 2006 Stirtz Group Customer Service Survey:

"What Do Customers Really Want?"

1. Listen to me

2. Know more than I do (about your product or service)

3. Be easy to work with

4. Give me what I came for

5. Smile

6. Tell me your name

7. Acknowledge my presence

8. Don't treat me like I'm an interruption

9. Show me you care

10. Don't waste my time

11. Be honest

12. Offer alternatives if you don't have what I want

13. High quality and low prices

14. Don't try to sell me. Just help me

15. Do what you say you're going to do

16. Keep me informed

(The results are in ranked order from most popular response.)


I don't claim this survey has any scientific significance or statistical validity. (It's not meant to). But it is based on real answers from real people so I think it can be useful for many organizations as they work to improve their customer service.

I'll write more in the near future about the implications of these survey results. For now though, I think it's safe to say people know what they want as customers. And, based on how people responded (lots of extra comments) I think many of them feel they are not getting what they want.

So, even though this list of 16 customer wishes seems basic and intuitive, I don't believe most organizations are delivering them to all their customers all the time. If they were, this list would have been much shorter. People wouldn't bother mentioning them if they were getting them on a regular basis.

Please feel free to use this survey as you work to improve the customer service in your organization. And share it with others. You have my permission to reprint and republish it as long as you give credit to Kevin Stirtz and the Stirtz Group LLC.

Then take the next step and do a survey like this with your customers. Ask them what they want and listen. Make a list and share it with your employees. Then keep asking because things change. The more you ask, the more your customers will tell you. Then you'll be able to give them what they want better than anyone else.
About the Author
Kevin Stirtz is the Amazing Service Guy. He is a customer service speaker and trainer who helps companies increase revenue and profits by delivering Amazing Service. Kevin has spoken to thousands of people across the USA and in Europe about how to improve customer service. Get a free copy of Kevin's Amazing Service Toolkit at: http://amazingserviceguy.com
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