The 7 Customer Needs

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This post first appeared on the ICMI blog in February, 2022.

I started my career in my early 20’s working in the residential contact centre of a phone company. I’d just finished a marketing degree and, upon the advice of my father, I entered the business in a customer service capacity. He believed that interacting with hundreds of customers every week would give me great insight into their needs before I moved into the marketing department.

That advice proved invaluable. What I learned in those six months served me extremely well as I devised and implemented sales and retention campaigns over the next few years, like how to work within the limitations of the contact centre systems and processes, what appealed to our customers, and how to work effectively with people on the frontline.

After taking thousands of calls during my time in that contact centre, I realised that while all customers vary, most have a common set of seven basic needs when they interact with an organisation:


The most basic customer need. Those they interact with must be courteous and polite.


The customer needs to know that their wants and circumstances are understood and appreciated.


The customer must feel they receive adequate attention and fair/reasonable answers.


The customer must feel their wants and input have influence on the outcome.


Customers want choice and flexibility. They want to know there are many avenues to satisfy them.


Customers want to know about products and services – but in a pertinent and time-sensitive manner. Too much information and “selling” can put customers off.


Customers’ time is valuable, and we need to treat it as such. The time we ask customers to spend doing tasks must be minimised, and we must do things efficiently and effectively.


Though it has been more than a quarter century since I was working the frontlines of a contact centre, I still use these principles in customer experience design. You can’t design an experience for someone without a good understanding of their needs.

These principles also apply to more than just customers. They can be used to guide actions when dealing with co-workers and managers or when designing experiences for employees. Whether you’re a CX manager, an HR manager, or a contact centre frontline worker, learn these needs and apply how you’d satisfy them for the different people within your working life.



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