Anticipation

By Steve Robins

Anticipation builds customer loyalty.

A few weeks back, I had a few “wow” experiences that demonstrated the power of anticipation.  No matter that they were almost mundane: each experience improved my perception of the brand/company, service or location.  And they offer great lessons for solution marketers.

Anticipation - ketchup in a bottleAnticipated receipt

After filling up with gas at the nearby Hess Gas Station, I saw that the  gas pump’s receipt printer was out of paper – which is a nuisance.  But when I walked into the store to pick up a receipt, the cashier already had my receipt ready – before I could utter a single word.  Wow!  I’d say that I was actually more impressed with her anticipating my receipt needs than I would have been had the printer actually had paper.  I’ve been filling up at this station because they had competitive gas prices.  Now I’ll do it because they have great service as well.  

Anticipated question

The next day, I inadvertently locked myself out of my ConstantContact account, so I called the company to see what they could do to reset my password.  No sooner had I mentioned my account name than the customer service rep said, “I bet you’re calling because you’re locked out… Here’s what you need to do…”  She took care of it and I was on my way.  Once again, Wow!  And once again, an experience that would make me recommend the company to my peers.

Both experiences had a common element: anticipation.  The staff at both Hess and Constant Contact had anticipated my challenges, they knew how to address them – and they fixed them in a fast and pleasant manner.

Anticipated customer needs

Now, let me give you a different example.  I head marketing at FirstBest, which designs and sells software for insurance companies.  Early on, the company’s founders researched our market to understand insurers’ biggest underwriting challenges so that the company could anticipate their needs.  Turns out those insurers had a lot of challenges that had never been solved before and our company was able to develop great software applications that have consistently exceeded their expectations.

But we really knew we were successful when prospects began muttering things under their breath.  Thinking that my colleagues were out of earshot, prospects would say things like “Wow, they know my job!” and “holy s&#t” and “this would be great!”  Things that prospects and customers say only when you, the vendor, actually anticipate their needs by understanding their challenges at the very deepest level.

Anticipation wins customers

When applied to the customer/prospect relationship, anticipation is a powerful tool that transforms an otherwise nice-to-have solution into a game-changer.  A “Maybe I should I buy that” to an “I gotta have it”.  It can even create an almost emotional connection.  But most importantly, it’s about understanding the customer’s challenge and solving it in a unique and superior manner.  Which is how anticipation builds lasting bonds between customers and their vendor partners.

So, how well does your company anticipate your customers’ needs?

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Filed under Case Studies, Software marketing, Solution, Solutions, User research

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