Know Your Customer’s Needs
Every year, Apple holds a special event where they make announcements of updates and new products. Each year, the tech company impresses the world with a wide range of new features. Features which make life so easier in new and exciting ways. One lesson to learn from a company like Apple is to know your customer’s needs.
When an iPhone became more than a phone, but a device with all your personal information, Apple added a fingerprint identity sensor to protect sensitive data. When Apple noticed that people want to stay connected online constantly, they introduced the Apple Watch to strap onto your wrist everywhere you go. Apple has even gone to the extent of creating Apple Pay to replace your wallet and credit cards with your iPhone.
In all these instances, Apple recognized and anticipated the needs of their customers. One of the top reasons for the company’s cult-like customer loyalty is that users feel that Apple understands them. iPhone users don’t mind spending a few hundred dollars every year for a new model because they believe it addresses their needs and enhances their lifestyle.
A good business fulfills customers’ needs, but a great business anticipates them. When you have solutions ready before the issue grows, customers appreciate it. Today change is happening at a tremendous pace, making it more important than ever to stay in touch with what consumers want. Understanding your customer helps you recognize and anticipate their needs.
Consider every perspective
Understanding customer needs are really about understanding people. One way to anticipate them is to look at it from three aspects: corporate, personal and decision criteria.
1. Business goals
Those improvements each person is trying to achieve with the project are expressed as corporate objectives. It is actually quite difficult because customers often express their goals in terms of the solution they already have in mind, not their needs. At Cerius, we see this with CEO’s and business owners; they will often express the problem they have or the vision they want to get to. It is up to us to help figure out what then need to solve the problem or achieve the vision. An excellent way to help customers define their real needs is by challenging them with good questions using your knowledge of the subject. Often, just having the right questions is the best tool to get the right answers.
2. Decision criteria
The decision criteria are the characteristics of a vendor or solution that each person in the decision-making process uses to select the best choice. It varies widely at different levels, which is why it is important to understand them thoroughly to ensure that you present relevant strengths.
This will often involve understanding where they started, where they are at now in the process and where they want to get to. As much as you may think their decision making started with your contact, it often started long before that. For example, if I am looking to remodel my kitchen, the decision making process did not start with my trip to Home Depot. It started the moment I looked at my kitchen and thought (not even decided) I wasn’t happy with it.
3. Personal Goals
Most buying decisions have a personal element to them, even if they are business decisions. Understanding the personal drive and motivation can help you quicker understand your customer’s needs and circumvent a long and painful trial and error process. Know your customers
To understand customer needs you need to know them first. The best source of information is from customer points of contact. Have regular meetings with employees who interact with your customers, and gather important information on their buying habits, requests, demographics, and more. Have causal conversations with customers asking them if they are satisfied with their product and what could make it better. Take feedback from points of contact, online or forums to find out what customers both like and dislike about your product. Compare and contrast them all. One key point is whether the information you received from customers is consistent with what you heard from employees. Is there a gap in understanding your customer’s needs or simply a matter of perspective which can be very useful?
Keep your eyes and ears open for what is happening with your clients. Watch what they are doing and saying. With social media, observing your customers is much easier. You can see what has grabbed the attention of your target market and what’s important to them. A glance at the tweeting trends on Twitter every day gives you a pretty good idea of what’s going on.
After a while of observing your customers and compiling data on them, patterns will eventually emerge. When customers land in a certain situation, you’ll start noticing similar results. Take note of the patterns and search for a cause and effect. Fix the root cause of common problems before it bothers customers.