Tag Archives: needs assessment

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Customer Needs, Understand Them or Wish That You Had

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Knowing exactly what they want might be better stated as, “I think I know exactly what they want.” Fast, friendly, and courteous are all things that are synonymous with exceptional customer service. Understanding customer needs might not always be so simple.

Customer needs

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who insists on finishing your sentences? I know I have, and I know I’ve been the one finishing the sentence for others from time-to-time.

Usually it isn’t so much that we believe we know it all, it is probably more about demonstrating we are on the same page. At least, that might be what we tell ourselves.

Ride a bike, lift some weights, run, jog, or walk, exercise takes energy. The same is true for being a great listener, having extreme concentration, and even for reading a book.

Do you work hard to understand your customer’s needs?

Customer Needs

If you’re going to understand your customer, you’re going to have to listen, and therefore you’re going to have work hard to understand. Finishing a sentence might signal you’re on the same page or it might signal that you don’t have time to listen.

If you’re going to understand what the customer wants or needs you should consider doing more of this:

  1. Make time. Being hurried seldom helps. Signal that you have the time or will make the time.
  2. Arrive. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are first or last, what will matter the most is that you arrive. Mentally and sometimes physically.
  3. Be patient. Not everyone wears their emotions or thoughts on their sleeves. Allow for expressions of pain points. Practice patience.
  4. Assume nothing. Thinking you know the immediate answer to their problem sometimes works, it also sometimes doesn’t. Assume less often.
  5. No anger. Anger never helps. Passion is good but getting emotional probably isn’t going to help you learn more about their needs.

Engage with your customers, do the math, get on the same page. Use your energy because understanding customer needs isn’t always about a race, nor is it necessarily about being first. In addition, it’s almost never about being rushed or hurried.

Sometimes trying to be first just might make you last, or in the eyes of the customer, to not exist at all.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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training needs assessment

Do You Ask About Training Needs?

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Many times I’ve been asked to either conduct a formal training needs assessment or provide consultation to other workforce professionals who are charged with conducting such an assessment.

Nearly every client engagement includes exploring some level of assessment based on needs. Some are very informal and some are more formal.

What is the correct approach? There certainly might be more than one answer, and in-depth assessment practices can fill an entire book, but here are a few basics.

Do I Just Ask About Needs?

A properly managed needs assessment is not a process of asking several questions about what an organization needs. This is as simplistic as a medical doctor asking if you have a cold, you say either yes or no, and they then prescribe what to do next.

It is not about just asking, “What are your needs?”

needs assessment

Below are a few of my favorites (not to do) that I’ve witnessed being used to conduct a so-called needs assessment. I must stress this is what not to ask:

  • What skills are lacking with your current workforce?
  • What training would help your team become better?
  • Do you need technical skills or soft-skills?

Sure this will collect some answers from the person or team that is being asked, but this is not the best way to determine current or future needs.

I’m amazed at the great number of people who approach a needs assessment in this manner. In fact, some of them are highly paid consultants.

The Right Approach

I’m a firm believer that there should be some balance in the approach for any assessment process. By balance I am referring to cost and value.

A full blown assessment that is going to reach in-depth to consider job tasks and duties, assess skill requirements, and perhaps even explore competency models is going to require considerable resources.

training needs assessment

Make no mistake about it, conducting an assessment of that caliber might be appropriate, but for many organizations especially small businesses this is probably too extensive.

Most organizations need to find a balance between low end and high end arriving at a cost effective solution that provides the greatest value.

Training Needs Assessment

The right path for developing training needs assessment questions must be approached without inappropriately leading or suggesting outcomes. It should be as unbiased as possible and should not make assumptions or predetermine possible outcomes.

Appreciative Strategies Assessment

Here are a few examples that are much better for discovering training needs.

  • You have several star or exemplary employees on your team, what is different about them when compared with your average employee?
  • Please describe one specific circumstance where employee performance resulted in an unfavorable or costly outcome for the organization.
  • What are the most significant barriers preventing your (department, team, et al) organization from achieving or exceeding its goals?

It’s important to recognize that there are many aspects to conducting an appropriate needs assessment.

This includes who to assess such as executives, supervisors, or front-line staff, and what to base the assessment on which may be things like efficiencies or productivity, customer service, sales, and even culture or leadership.

assessment needs training

A proper needs assessment must be representative of the best value and right-sized approach for each situation.

The most effective training needs assessment is not conducted by simply asking, “What are your needs?” Effective assessments help organizations discover both the obvious and the not so obvious.

What approaches have you used?


Originally published October 14, 2016. Last edited on October 12, 2018. 

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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