The ONEs Themselves menu

How to identify the actual customer needs

certified TheONE expert badge
3 mins read

Finding out the actual customer needs is, in my opinion, the most important task of an account manager. It is sometimes said that one of the most challenging tasks of an account manager is to translate the customer's question into the office staff. I believe there is something much more difficult that few account managers control.

Translate the customer's request to the customer's real needs. Otherwise, you are not an account manager, but a serving hatch. A serving hatch adds no value, and that is a missed opportunity.


Example: Finding out the actual customer value of a Japanese restaurant

Suppose someone is going to open a Japanese restaurant and needs plates. As an account manager, can you buy those plates for him? Most account managers will respond positively to this, and some are already calculating how much margin they can make. However, the slightly more seasoned account manager will ask questions. For instance:

  • how many plates are needed?
  • what color should the plates be?
  • what can a plate cost?

After all, a good account manager wants to determine customer needs first. However, are these the right questions to determine the actual customer needs? I think there are smarter questions.

The added value of an account manager

To identify customer needs, many account managers draw up a specification list. It gives them the comfort to buy the right plate for him. For example, if he gives up that he wants 60 shallow white round plates with Japanese decoration for a maximum of 2 euros a piece of porcelain. Do you know enough to meet his needs? Or do you need more specifications?

There are account managers who are somewhat insecure and want to expand the list of specifications until they know for sure that I get exactly what the customer asks for. That is not only enormously tiring for him as a client; you also deprive yourself of any added value that you can offer as an account manager.

Ask the right questions and determine the actual customer needs

It has to do with the type of question. Many account managers are trained to ask the "what exactly do you want" questions. These are questions that go into depth and seem to prevent something from being delivered that the customer is not waiting for.

The "what is this about" question.

There is also another type of question. The "what is this about" questions provoke us to find out more about the actual customer needs. At the "what is this plate about" question, the customer is almost forced to say something like that he will open a tiny ecological Japanese restaurant for students with healthy Japanese food.

Ten tables for four people where you can buy five sushi rolls and a drink for 5 dollars. The decor is minimalist and Japanese but made entirely from ecological bamboo. With this, he wants to offer students a responsible, cheap, and healthy alternative to the McDonalds.

If you know this and only this, could you buy the right plate for him? I would be directly inspired to fulfill the actual customer needs. Instead of a plate, I would buy 160 bamboo plates with a round hole for the drinking cup.

Cost price 0.40 cents, selling price 0.60 cents. Sustainable, ecological, practical, and stylish. There are no specifications from the customer, and I bet that the customer is pleasantly surprised by the fulfillment of his actual needs.

Article rating: 3.0 (2 reviews)
Share this article

Related articles

Show more

Popular articles

Show more

Instant contact with experienced accountmanagers

Business coaches
Victor Demmendal
Victor Demmendal
I'm the ONE I'm the ONE who likes to share my knowledge. Let's hook up so I can help you.
show profile
Co-founder of TheONE
Zuidplas ,  Netherlands
Languages: German, English, Dutch
'TheONE' badge for Victor Demmendal
customer relationship communication project lead client services project management communication marketing events branding incentives project management instore marketing branding personal coaching platform technology
Victor is available now
Call me
Dave Fric
Dave Fric
$ 0.93 PM
I'm the ONE who studied, travelled, made business and met plenty smart people with knowledge
show profile
Work on computer
Badung Regency ,  Indonesia
Languages: Czech, English
accountability business plan idea development income setting priorities strategicplanning online marketing project management seo increase sales google adwords facebook ads online advertising instagram ads shopping
Dave is available now
Call me
Henk Hoeksema
Henk Hoeksema
$ 1.67 PM
I'm the ONE who can help you optimize your organization with software, this with the purpose of service quality and efficiency. I can help with advice in product selection and achieving your goals.
show profile
it projects, football and my family
Amstelveen ,  Netherlands
Languages: German, English, Spanish, Dutch
sales it talent development ict finance software
Henk is available now
Call me
Ewoud Uphof
Ewoud Uphof
$ 3.34 PM
I'm the ONE seasoned growth hacker with 8 years experience
show profile
growth hacker and digital strategy
Madrid ,  Spain
Languages: English, Dutch
sales growth growth hacking growth hacker conversion optimisation marketing growth digital strategy growth strategy growth hacking
Ewoud is available now
Call me
Fabian Leeuwen
Fabian Leeuwen
$ 0.78 PM
I'm the ONE i’m the One who loves to talk!
show profile
manager, ambassadeur, klantenservice
Alphen aan den Rijn ,  Netherlands
Languages: Dutch, English
sales salesmanager eenmanszaak overtuigen outlet simpel airfryer basis motiveren inspireren maagverkleining doorzetten
Fabian is available now
Call me