How to Understand Customer Needs – and Give the People What They Want

  • Types of Customer Needs: Physical vs. Psychological
  • Physical needs are easier to identify because they have a direct, measurable, and sometimes tangible cause. If your hands are cold, you need gloves. If your windshield is broken, you need to have it fixed. If your empty stomach is growling, you need to eat.
  • The only way we can identify and meet psychological needs is by asking the customer directly, or studying their behaviors and using our findings to make educated guesses.
  • Without diving into the deeper psychology of each person, customers tend to want the same things, like:
    • A good value that strikes a balance between cost and usefulness
    • Convenient shopping experiences that don’t waste their time in completely avoidable ways
    • Dependable transactions where brands, products, and services do what they promise
    • Feeling supported and listened to by customer service in case anything goes wrong
  • Your competitors can influence your customers’ expectations and needs, so pay attention to them.
  • Create a “Customer Needs Statement”: While there are no strict rules to how this statement should look, it should cover the following things about your customer:
    • Who they are: It’s always helpful to know details like the customer’s age, gender, marital status, and location.
    •  Why they buy: If you can understand the motivations behind their purchase, you’ll find it easier to tie customer needs to the benefits your company can offer.
    • How they buy: Some customers prefer to shop from a company’s website, while others prefer to visit their store.
    • How much they can afford to spend: You’ll have a much better chance of meeting customer needs if you can match your offer to what they can afford.
    •  What they expect from you: For instance, if your customers expect fast shipping and you give it to them, they’re much more likely to come back and buy from you again.
    • What makes them tick: If you know what makes customers feel good about buying from your company, you can cater to their needs in the way they prefer.

    You can gather this data by looking at the purchase history of customers or conducting surveys to create your customer needs statement.

  • Plan How to Implement Customer Needs into Your Operations: 
    • Using a live chat option will allow you to meet the customer’s need to save time and avoid frustration.
    • You can also provide self-serve options like an FAQ section or a Knowledge Base to help customers solve their own problems, as Evernote does on its website.Evernote Knowledge Base
    • In addition to acting on their feedback, you can invite customers to co-create a product or service. This can be a cost-effective way to meet customer needs.When customers are able to contribute to the development of a product, they’re more likely to develop a positive perception of the brand and feel like their needs are being prioritized.This will inevitably lead to results like increased referrals, high satisfaction scores, or even a solution that helps you gain a competitive advantage.
  • In the past, it was a great idea for businesses to put their customers first. Today, you simply can’t survive in the long run unless this strategy is at the core of everything you do.
  • If you’re not quite there yet, you can take small steps today. To start, use research and your own customer channels to collect insights and feedback about what your customers are looking for. Share this information with other leaders at your company, identify your biggest gaps, and brainstorm ideas to close the gaps.