The Six Human Needs of Customers

For inspiration on Customer Service, I turned to my personal favorites, Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest. I am reprinting an article from their blog, with permission, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The Six Human Needs of Customers
By Marilyn Suttle

Since the start of mankind, self-help gurus have sought to define what it is that makes human beings tick. I was particularly struck with the list of “Six Human Needs” that Anthony Robbins discusses. Since customers are human beings too, I rewrote the six human needs specifically geared to customers. As you read each customer need, ask yourself – “Do I offer this to my customers?”

1. Certainty – Customers go where they are certain that a service will meet their expectations. When a customer feels certain that your service is predictably fast or friendly, the products will work, the food they order will taste good every time – it adds a level of comfort that puts your business at the top of their list.

2. Variety – It might seem a contradiction, but while customers want certainty, they also seek out variety. A certain amount of uncertainty or mystery adds excitement and adventure to the customer experience. Whether it’s wondering what the “soup of the day” might be, or selecting from an expanded variety of predictably excellent products, customers feel energized when their experience with you brings them a bit of unpredictable delight.

3. Significance – Customers prefer doing business with companies that value them. They can tell when you don’t treat them as if they are important. Offer authentic appreciation for your customers business. Seek out customer feedback to show that customer opinions matter to you. When you respond to their feedback it makes an even bigger positive impression that will keep customers coming back. What you focus on expands. Describe what your customer does that makes it a pleasure to work with them.

4. Connection – Do your customers feel like they are part of the community of your business? In other words, do they have a sense of belonging? Emotional connection drives decisions. Making eye contact and offering a greeting the moment your client walks through the door makes an instant connection. Taking a person down the aisle to find a product is more connecting that simply telling them – “It’s down aisle five.” Develop a professional relationship with your clients rather than an impersonal exchange. Customers want to feel cared for and cared about. People prefer to do business with people they like.

5. Growth – To improve and excel is an uplifting experience. Do you educate your customers and help them become better at using your products or services? Make it easy for your customers to gain competencies by offering an educational component to your business. Notice where it could be helpful to offer instruct or an in depth special report. Encourage your sales and training staff to offer added information that will help customers gain insights. This is the age of the educated consumer, when you contribute to their growth, you become a trusted resource.

6. Contribution – Customers are people, and people have a natural desire to make a difference. Thank your customers for getting their paperwork in on time, or for responding quickly to your follow-up email or phone calls. Put their contributing behaviors into words. Acknowledge their part in the process of a job successfully done. Let them know how much it helped you to do a good job for them by experiencing their accuracy, friendliness, or follow through.

What do you think? What will you do this week to apply one of the six human needs of customers? How might doing so improve your business?

Written by Marilyn Suttle on her customer service blog Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest coauthored: Who’s Your Gladys: How to Turn Even Your Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan – release date is projected September 2009. Email her at

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