Mind Meld: Why you must understand your client’s needs

Last week I went to Home Depot to look for a bathroom vanity light. I had plenty of options to look at. A whole wall of lights, in fact.

But there was a problem.

None were on. Someone needed to flip a switch. So I went to ask a customer service rep for help.

Curiously enough, the guy I found told me that they didn’t turn the lights on in that aisle until 8:30 am. I noted that it was already 9:00 am. Then he made it sound like someone outside the store controlled the lights.

Well, that seemed strange to me. I needed to see how bright a particular light bar was. If they wanted to sell me a light, they would need to flip a switch. I went to the front of the store to get help. Someone at a customer service station said she would make sure the wall was turned on. It seemed obvious to her why I would want them to flip the switch.

As I walked back to the aisle, I saw all the lights were on.


So what’s the takeaway here?

I’d say that first customer service rep lacked imagination. He couldn’t imagine why I would want to see the lights on. I could tell he didn’t understand where I was coming from.

We weren’t speaking the same language. He clearly didn’t care about my problem. I felt like he gave up on helping me.

Let this be a reminder to all entrepreneurs and small businesses. When your client has a problem that you should be able to help solve, try to be part of the solution.

Don’t be a dead end. Don’t make solving the problem seem like an impossible task. And don’t act like your client is slightly crazy for making a request.

And try to understand where your client is coming from. What is bugging her? And what is it preventing her from doing? The more you understand what’s going on in your client’s head, the better you can not only empathize, but serve her.

And if you don’t already get where she’s coming from, ask questions that will help you get a better sense of what she’s dealing with and what she wants to accomplish. The more you understand what’s at stake, the better you’ll be positioned to help solve your client’s problem