You have listened to your customer. You’ve communicated clearly with them. You’ve gone a step further and empathized with them. You’re well on your way to providing great customer service. Now it’s time to get inside your customer’s head. Don’t rely on fixing problems as they happen. Anticipate their needs and try to identify where they will encounter trouble before they do.

Learn your customer’s habits and preferences. Anticipate what they are going to need before they need it. If you have a customer you know becomes easily frustrated by big changes, work to prepare them well ahead of the change. Learn how to defuse the hotheads and encourage the timid. Ease all of your customers into upcoming changes.

Getting inside your customer’s heads will make you seem like a mind reader and they’ll not only notice but appreciate your effort in doing more than they expected. You’re making their lives easier by skipping a call to support. It will make your job easier because you’ve stopped a problem before it started.

A great example of this is when things change unexpectedly. Recently, Firefox started bundling a basic PDF reader into the browser. This caused it to replace the Adobe Reader plugin that can handle advanced features like entering information into a form.

I had a customer call saying his documents were no longer working on a certain web page. I went to see him and he showed me how he opened a web page filled with PDF forms he needed to complete. The PDFs were either not loading at all or loading without any of the forms being editable. He has no idea what had happened. Nothing had changed as far as he knew but he couldn’t get his work done.

I was aware of Firefox’s new feature and checked the version number. It was the latest version. Good news, I had my culprit. I turned off the built-in PDF reader and enabled the Adobe Reader plugin. Now the files opened as they always had. He was so excited. He said, “Great! Now I can get on with my day!”

This was a minor issue for me, but this was ruining his day. Being aware of the new PDF reader feature, I knew immediately what his problem was and while I couldn’t prevent it, I was able to resolve it very quickly.

A big change that happened recently was an upgrade to the Exchange servers. Exchange is Microsoft’s email server. It powers many company’s email systems and provides calendar and contact sharing and syncing to mobile devices as well. If you email at work, then you’re most likely using an Exchange server.

Often times these upgrades are seamless and the customer notices very little except for a few hours of downtime over a weekend. Or perhaps their company webmail looks a bit different.

However, in this move Entourage, a Mac email client would not longer be supported and Outlook would be the new email client for a large number of customers. This caused a lot of strife because people live and die by their email. And they’ve come to understand their program and build work flows and habits around it.

Changing their habits cause a lot of stress and frustration. Ahead of this change, I worked extensively with a few customers I knew would have problems with the new client.

Not for any technical reason, just that it was new and it was different. My email works just fine. Why do we need to change it? I explained to them that the company was moving forward because the new servers would allow for more features and better security. I explained that the new email client would reduce the need to always repair the Entourage database.

This is a common issue with the Entourage email client where all data is stored in a single file. Over the years, and decades, this file grows to enormous sizes and as a result becomes unstable.

Outlook stores messages, calendar events and contacts in separate, small files. This allows the number of email messages and calendars to grow to much larger sizes without the fear of corruption and lost data.

After explaining this to my reluctant customers, they were ready for the change. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the benefit to the customer. Many times they view IT upgrades and changes as nothing more than inconvenient for them. I try to find the value for the customer and share it with them. It makes the transitions easier and they’re happier as a result.