You don’t need us to tell you how important your customers are to your business; no customers, no business, it’s as simple as that. However, there are many businesses providing products and services that could improve their bottom line considerably by making themselves much more customer-centric.

Getting to know your customers and gaining insights into their needs is the best way to retain existing clients and gain more in the future. Let’s face it in this fast-moving and fickle digital age; it only takes one bad customer experience for someone to switch to competitors to fulfill their needs.

Before we can understand our customer’s needs, we first need to identify who our customer is. The more knowledge we have about our customer’s wants and desires, the better we can tailor our product or service to match. The better the analytic data we have, the easier it is to provide the right people with our offer.

Today plenty of tools are available to businesses large and small that can accurately analyze and provide all the data we need to know about who our customers are.  While data analysis is instrumental, it is just one part of the process to gain insights into the types of people who use our business.

We can’t totally understand who our customer is from data analysis; it might provide us with the ‘who’ and the  ‘how’  but not necessarily always the ‘why.’ For instance, the analysis might reveal that most of your customers are females aged 25-30 who prefer to shop on weekends. But often, identifying ‘why’ someone purchased your product or service (or not) requires a more psychological and human approach. So which is more important? In short, it’s all useful; the more knowledge we have about our users, the more we can meet customer needs.

customer needs delivery

What are Customer Needs?

Customer needs can be described as the things they need, want, or expect when buying a product or service from a business. Needs can be motivated by both physical and psychological factors or both. For instance, if someone buys a coat online because the weather is getting cooler, they are motivated by a physical need. Still, they are also likely to be influenced by how it looks, ‘will it make them appear stylish to their friends’, which is classed as a psychological need.

It doesn’t always have to be about the actual product but the customer experience. An example is Amazon offering ‘Prime’ with products delivered to your doorstep in hours. Convenience and speed of delivery are needs that many customers expect to be met these days. If you could ascertain that your customers would rather pay a little more for expedited delivery, wouldn’t these be useful to know?

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Ways to Understand and Identify Customer Needs

We can’t leave it to guesswork to understand customer needs; it’s required to study their behavior, ask them questions, and take notice of their feedback to educate ourselves. The more information you gather about your customers, the greater the position you’ll be in to know what they want.

Let’s look at some ways that can help you to understand your customers better.

Analyze Demographics and Behavior

With tools free and paid, we can gain unique insights into our customers’ demographics and behavior. An example is the free tools provided by Google, such as Analytics and Search Console. They provide us with real-time data about our customers. We can find out demographics such as age, sex, location, and how they interact with our site. We can find out the keywords they are searching for and the devices they are using to access our website.

google analytics demographics

Also, there are customer journey tools that map how customers behave on your website; they are a great way to identify any pain points that a customer has when interacting with your brand. Typically they use heat maps or session recordings so you can watch how the customer navigates around your website. Any steps of the process where they meet roadblocks or challenges can be then fixed to provide a better experience.

Be The Customer

Mapping demographics and behavior is an excellent start to understand your customers and provide them with an improved user experience, but people are complex and soft skills are required as well. Becoming the customer is a great way of gaining further insight into their needs. Rather than being on the inside looking out, look at your business through your customer’s eyes.

If you have a physical business, is your receptionist friendly and prompt answering calls? Does your business premises look professional, or is it a bit worn down? Are your delivery drivers scruffy and driving a van that hasn’t seen a clean in a few months?

For online businesses, start with your website. What is the user experience like? Is it easy to navigate? Is it fast or slow? If it takes more than a few seconds to load, the likelihood is the user will ‘bounce’ off your site and visit a competitor. Try purchasing a product, is the process straightforward and intuitive? Head over to your customer service team; how long did it take to get a reply? Did they fully answer your questions? By emphasizing with them and putting yourself in their situation, you’ll gain a greater understanding of your customers’ needs.

The Benefits of Customer Feedback

Listening to your customer’s feedback on online review platforms and positively engaging with them can increase your credibility and create more sales. Feedback, both positive and negative, will provide your company with valuable information for identifying customer needs.

Consumers take notice of online reviews, and with over 90% of them, it will influence their purchasing decision. Not only do consumers read the reviews about your business, but they will also check to see your response. So one of our recommended tips is to personally reply to all reviews, good or bad, to give your company a human face. The negative reviews often can be just as beneficial as the positive ones. We can find out where our product or service is lacking and what our customers want and expect. The goal is to respond promptly and with empathy, to resolve the issue.

Customer satisfaction surveys are another great way of determining customer needs and discovering where your business is lacking. You can use it to find out what customers think about your product by asking such questions as what they like/ dislike about the product, what features could be improved, and how their experience with customer service was.

You can also ask them questions regarding demographics such as age, employment, marital status, etc. If you are asking for this type of information from your customers, it shouldn’t be mandatory.

It’s also good to have a text box available to ask your customer if they have any additional comments or feedback. In this way, you can determine your customers’ core values as they are free to voice any opinions they have regarding your brand.

Follow Up With Your Customers

Most businesses don’t want to just sell to a customer once but want them to become repeat customers. Following up with offers and content that they are likely to be interested in ensures that your brand isn’t forgotten. Once they have purchased your product or service, this is the time to follow up with either the customer satisfaction survey we just discussed or by other forms of communication such as email or phone.

Check Out The Competition

Any savvy business leader knows that competition analysis is crucial to know the market. Spending time understanding your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses can help you identify what you are doing right or wrong with yours. An excellent place to start is to analyze the customer reviews of your competitor. Don’t rely on any that they may have on their website as these will likely be biased; look to customer review sites instead. Don’t just look for the reviews from the brands that are doing better than you but those performing poorly. In this way, you can help bulletproof your business in the future by learning from the cons and the pros of your competitors.

Social Media

Marketing to your customers on social media is a great way of building brand awareness and discovering more about customer needs. With social media, you can interact with your customers in real-time and engage with them on a more personal level.

social media

Typically people use social media to socialize and have fun, so share content with them that is fun or engaging rather than a hard sale. An article on an informative topic or an amusing meme will likely get many more shares than overly self-promotional content. By discovering which type of content resonates with your customers, you can create more engagement and build new talking points around your brand. It also gives you a chance to profile and build up a picture of the types of people who share, comment, and like your content.

Social media listening software can be another useful tool in your arsenal to determine what is being said about your brand. This type of software monitors and analyzes mentions of your brand on social media and other platforms such as forums, blogs, and news sites. Using social media listening, you’ll be able to find out customer sentiment not just for your brand but for your competitors as well.

Content Marketing is King

We briefly touched on how writing about topics that strike a chord with your audience will help spread the word about your business. Content marketing requires an in-depth knowledge of who your customers are to be effective. However, as you create more content, you’ll build an improved customer profile by understanding the topics or information that are viewed, shared, or commented on the most. In the process, you will be able to offer more valuable content by tailoring it to best suit their interests.

In Conclusion

The key to business success is understanding customer needs, and if you want to retain existing clients and gain new ones, you must know what makes them tick. To improve sales of services or products, understanding the demographics of your customers is not enough. You need to get inside your customer’s minds and explore their wants, desires, values, and opinions.

We realize that many small enterprises struggle to find time to deal with everyday tasks. Exploring customer needs is a luxury that remains on the backburner. For this reason, we created Weave, a complete business toolbox for small to medium companies that can help streamline your business and save you time. Weave could be the solution you need to free up your day so that you can spend more time getting to know your customers. Explore how Weave can improve your business here.