Identifying and satisfying customer needs is the best approach for your brand to boost its profitability.
It may feel great when you have an amazing idea for a product. Perhaps you may have even spent some time nurturing your idea and refining it and you are certain it’s going to be a hit.
If you were a consumer you would buy it, so you expect your customers to do the same.
However, as you may already know some of the greatest ideas end up being massive flops.
Everyone knows of the mega brands that crafted a major product launch strategy but for some reason, it never captured the attention of their target audience. This usually happens when a brand is not focused on the needs of its customers.
Take the Ford Edsel for an example. When the majority of Americans were searching to buy more efficient and smaller cars, Ford launched a gas guzzler that cost them hundreds of millions in revenue for the few years it was in production.
You don’t want to have such a costly loss. But what can be done to ensure that your products meet and satisfy the needs of your target audience?
First, you must be aware of the most basic customer needs. Then you have to figure out which particular needs your target audience currently has.
So let’s get started.
What are Customer Needs?
Customer needs are what motivate customers to purchase a service or product from a business. Such needs can be unknown or known, (the customer clearly states it) and they are the determinant factor for the solution the customer buys.
How Can I Identify Customer Needs?
Information acquisition from your customers doesn’t have to be a troublesome or daunting task. There are typically two ways to know what your customers need.
First Approach: Use a Survey
Surveys are great for helping you discover more about your target audience and customer base. They give you access to the mind of consumers and allow you to find out the reasons why people purchase from you.
Birchbox offers a great example with their beauty profile quiz if you’re searching to know how your product can satisfy customer needs.
After signing up for the service Birchbox sends all customers through a quiz that allows the brand to give the customer a product that perfectly suits their needs.
But you may need a more detailed survey if you want to get every need of your customer satisfied, this is inclusive of needs associated with customer information and service.
So don’t be skeptical about setting up an analysis survey for customers. You can seamlessly do this using a survey tool like Survey Monkey.
Ask them questions that will help you see the perception that consumers have towards the various aspects of your business such as:
- Experiences with customer service
- Shipping or purchase
- Particular products
For instance, you can create a list of negative and positive adjectives and ask the customer to pick the ones that they feel apply to either your customer service or individual products. You can also add statements about your business and ask customers whether they agree.
Second Approach: Take Advantage of Social Media and Analyze Data to Find Out Sentiment
Prospects and customers are aware of the power of social media and they will not restrain themselves from using such platforms to discuss a retailer or brand. This is why it’s a best practice to utilize a social listening tool like Hootsuite or Talkwalker to monitor conversations about your brand and discover what consumers think about your business.
Talkwalker robust social listening tool
Social listening enables you to monitor conversations on the web about your brand or products by following particular hashtags or by going through posts via keywords. This way even when customers don’t tag your business in their comments you can still see their conversations about you.
Gather the data. Identify the adjectives that consumers use in describing your business, as well as the ratio of negative to positive comments. This method will assist you to know where your company is performing well but also the aspects where extra effort is needed.
7 Types of Customer Needs
Though this is not a final list, these 8 types of customer needs are the most common ones that most brands will encounter. As we go through them we will see how various brands have succeeded in satisfying their customers’ needs.
1. Guarantee/Risk Reduction
Regardless of how super reliable you present your products, customers still want to know that they don’t stand the risk of losing their time or money.
This is why your guarantees and product return policy are so crucial. It is a necessary factor that must be addressed if you aim to satisfy your customers’ needs.
To ease the worries of your customers and assure them that they’re not at risk you may want to emulate what Sunski, a sunglass company, did with their guarantee page.
2. Product/Service Price
Customers care a great deal about product or service price. And that more than ever. Is this the best deal available? Is it better than the one offered by a competitor? Are you getting the best product quality in the market or simply paying for convenience?
60% of customers consider price more than any other factor and 86% state that it’s necessary to compare prices between different brands.
This is especially true if you are competing against businesses with similar products or services. Price could be a major factor in the purchase decision of a customer in such situations.
Does this mean that you have to cut down on your price right away? Not at all.
But giving the right type of discount, for example, to cost-conscious customers can help you pull more business your way. Figure out where you can offer price advantages for your customers. For instance, you can offer a discount for purchases over specific amounts or on a product bundle.
Beardbrand does this excellently with your grooming product kits:
Beardbrand grooming product kit discounts
Purchasing the entire kit means that the customer saves money because buying each product individually is costlier. But the complete cart value is more, which translates to better revenue for the brand.
3. Ease of Use
For your services or products to satisfy people’s needs they must be convenient and easy to use. You have to discover exactly what your target audience uses your products for and why they would use them.
The moment you understand the various uses that your customers have for your services or products you can better adapt to fit their needs.
The Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit by Microsoft does exactly this. The 365 package had previously been used by remote workers for quite some time but this toolkit was manufactured especially for big brands that have a majority freelance workforce.
By creating this toolkit alongside Upwork, a freelance marketplace, Microsoft aligned their products to the needs of their customers.
4. Adaptability and Reliability
Consumers have to trust that the product or service they are purchasing will last. They want to rely on its capacity to work properly for an expected time frame.
Beyond reliability, customers nowadays also desire adaptability. Big brands are introducing fresh products that have a reduced impact on the environment, satisfying the needs of their customers.
Hyundai for example does this with the beautiful and new Ioniq Electric:
Hyundai Ioniq Electric car satisfying customer needs
This is an amazing electric car and it comes from an automobile business focused on satisfying its customers’ needs and the capacity to adapt.
5. Excellent Customer Service
Consumers must feel that a business understands and is empathetic towards them especially when it relates to customer service.
59% of consumers who have a bad customer service experience state that they will not do business with that brand again.
Alternatively, customers in the United States will pay 17% more for a business that provides excellent customer service.
What’s your takeaway? You must have great customer service if you intend to satisfy your customers’ needs. Starbucks excels in this. Especially on social media channels. The coffee brand replies to 1000’s of tweets every day assisting customers with whatever they need or simply just engaging in their adoration of coffee.
6. Offer Information
Another crucial customer need is information. Regardless of if you sell physical items like food, makeup, and clothes or digital products such as software or books your target audience may be uncertain of what would satisfy their specific needs.
In such situations, they need your expertise and guidance. They must have the right information that will help them make the right purchase decision, which will end up in satisfaction.
How can you give them such information?
Firstly, ensure that you are always available to solve consumer queries. This can be linked up with the above point, as it involves the running of a friendly and consistent customer service operation.
There’s also the option of including a live chat on your platform to answer consumer questions as they navigate through your offers.
Try producing informational content as well. This covers content like a knowledge base for a service, video content, instructional blog content, etc.
Wayfair for example offers shoppers amazingly useful buying guides.
Wayfair buying guides
Wayfair understands that their target audience struggles in choosing the best product for their needs. And though their catalog seems limitless, the brand does a great job in providing customers with details for certain scenarios where they would need help making a purchase decision.
In addition, the brand provides excellent video content to assist DIY designers who may require additional help in picking the best carpet for their home. They also frequently post on their YouTube channel helpful video content on how you can choose the best furniture for your house and the best approach to choose particular items for every room.
Wayfair YouTube content guides
Everyone knows that furnishing a house is one of the hardest things to do but Wayfair through these guides assists consumers to make the best choices that will satisfy their needs. You can emulate this by creating informative content for your target audience.
A major customer need is possessing some degree of control over the service or product.
This can mean a couple of things. For instance, subscription-based businesses can offer customers control over the length or terms of their subscriptions. E-commerce companies can give shoppers different options for shipping, especially in major holiday seasons.
Control can also mean allowing the customer to customize your product. Let’s see how Timbuk2 the bag brand executes this with their customizable bags.
Timbuk2 customizable product
Allowing the customer to have full control over product creation is a pretty smart way to satisfy their need.
What Must a Brand Do to Fulfil Customer Needs?
Beyond the product or service that your business offers, there are characteristics that a brand must possess to satisfy customer needs.
Let’s have a look at a few of them.
1. Offer Stellar Customer Service Individually
96% of consumers around the world state that customer service is a determining factor in their decision about brand loyalty.
However, every one of your customers has a unique view of what great customer service is. So you have to know and understand what they need individually.
Research what your customer needs are by doing surveys and then create segments for each one. This will aid you in understanding how to fulfill their expectations.
You can also take out time to study the kind of customer service that consumers in your industry or location expect.
Also, most times, your front-line employees are a great resource for identifying what your customers need because they interact with them daily. So a key to discovering stellar customer service is by paying attention to your workers.
Satisfied employees make satisfied customers. You have to ensure that satisfaction exists within your ranks so your company as a whole can have the energy to offer a quality service.
If your staff can offer great service, your customers will feel that their wants are being satisfied.
2. Listen to Customer Feedback
An aspect of understanding people who patronize your business is listening to them. Give an ear to what they have to say regardless of if it is negative or positive feedback.
Feedback from your customers offers a sea of information that can help you in boosting their experience with your brand. Though it may look like criticism is bad for business, it offers an opportunity.
For any business to thrive consistently it must be aware of the changes and trends in the market. What was attractive for the past few years may not be so currently.
So knowing the current perception of your brand and its services/products regarding the evolving needs of your target audience helps you to align to your customers’ present desire and stay afloat.
3. Ensure Expectations Align
A primary reason why many businesses fail to satisfy the needs of the customer is that the customer’s expectations and theirs aren’t aligned.
This presents a huge setback as you will never be able to satisfy the requirements of your target audience because you never were aware of what they were.
You can ensure that your expectations align to that of the customer by making sure everyone in a company is clear on your goals and the steps to realize them. And such goals must be in tandem with what your customers expect.
4. Watch Your Competitors
Some people may not realize it but competitors influence the requirements and expectations of consumers. It is bad for business if you ignore your competition, as they will easily capture your prospects because their service caters to their needs.
So ensure that you watch your competition, especially what consumers think about your customer service.
5. Consistently Communicate with Customers
Inconsistency of communication is one of the top things that leads to customer frustration.
If your reps cannot remain consistent or give conflicting information often, your customers may feel alienated and confused.
This gives the impression that your company isn’t organized. So use all means available to consistently interact with customers. Currently, the best modes of communication are via social media, live chat, and emails.
Then ensure that when you communicate with your customers your brand image and voice are consistent. Even when you communicate with customers across various channels make sure that you retain your unique personality and voice so that customers can understand your message thoroughly.
Non-conflicting messaging also helps in making you recognizable and unique from competitors as well as prevent confusion from your customers.
6. Build Customer Loyalty Via Proactive Customer Relations
Yes, your customers desire that you satisfy their needs right away. But business relationships can not survive like that. There is more profitability in customer relationships if they come from loyalty.
Loyal customers offer a higher ROI than acquiring fresh clients. To do this ensure that you maintain contact with your customers and keep their positive experience with your business in their minds continually.
In this day and age, there are so many ways to keep in touch with your customers. It’ll be bad practice not to use such to spark conversations, understand them, and acquire feedback.
Follow-ups present an amazing opportunity to know what your customers’ needs are, as well as when they might arise. It allows your business to be ahead of your customer’s mind.
Just ensure that you don’t spam them.
8. Be Honest
Customer interaction works just like every other type of relationship. You have to be empathetic and honest if you want it to stay. To earn your customer’s trust you have to be transparent right from the get-go. This means that you let them know exactly what they are to expect.
It’ll also help to show your customers that you understand their particular situation and you will do everything possible to help the situation.
We’ve gone through 7 typical customer needs as well as the characteristics you need to satisfy customer needs and the approaches to identify them. But it doesn’t end there.
As soon as you know how to identify the needs of your customers you have to apply the insights gained to your business operations. Your company can only grow if you satisfy customer needs in every area from design, the functionality of your service or products, how you satisfy complaints, return policy, guarantees, etc.
After analyzing the insights gained you have to put them into action. You must create a culture that is focused on satisfying customers.
Pleased customers equate to business success.