The market is changing so fast these days, and if you are not planning a solution today for tomorrow’s customers, you may be setting yourself up for failure and don’t even realize it.
There are always new competitors who are planning their arrival tomorrow. As an angel investor, I routinely toss business plans that focus too much on today, and don’t talk about tomorrow.
As an example, I was just reading a plan for a new dating app with a tagline of moving users quickly from the virtual world into the real world of offline dating.
That may be a boon to dating today, but if your business is making money from apps, it seems like your success will convince users that they no longer need your product tomorrow. Tomorrow is never mentioned in the pitch.
I was happy to see a real focus on preparing for tomorrow highlighted in a new book, Start a Successful Business, by Colleen DeBaise, who has made a career of studying and writing about entrepreneur challenges.
She offers seven ways that business owners can identify and evolve with future trends, which I agree with and amplify here:
1. Take advantage of industry research and trend reports.
I often hear entrepreneurs who seem to rely wholly on their own passion, and the view of a few friends.
With today’s Internet instant access to all the latest reports and white papers of industry experts, there is no excuse for not staying current with outside perspectives, to temper your own views.
2. Regularly follow reviews and influencers in your industry.
Of course, you may not have the time or desire to read through every document in your space, but it’s not so hard to find and follow some key influencer blogs on social media.
These experts will curate the information, point to the best sources, and summarize implications for you.
3. Use tools and analytics to identify trends and directions.
There are many free generalized tools, including Google Trends, which can be used to track customer behavior in looking for things that don’t exist yet.
In addition, most advanced CRM systems will help you analyze your specific customers for directional behavior. Look for trends to specific niches in your product line. Salesforce and Hubspot are popular systems that offer useful analytics features.
4. Make it a point to surround yourself with smart people.
An easy way to connect with people you can learn from, and keep your pulse on where things are heading, is to hire team members who are smarter than you in complementary business areas, including marketing and sales.
Spend more time with people who can help, rather than be helpers.
5. Build and listen to an effective group of advisors.
Find mentors and advisors who have more relevant business experience, insist you see things that aren’t on your radar, and spot what’s coming around the corner.
A good advisor will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. You don’t need friends and family as business advisors.
6. Ask the right questions, and listen to your customers.
Don’t be afraid to ask current customers what’s on their wish list, and what they see as future needs in their areas.
Beware of linear thinking on their part, so it’s your job to expand their scope with ideas outside the box, and ask them for a view of the business several years down the road.
7. Learn to accept, and even schedule change regularly.
The alternative is to be into the mode of playing catch-up, which can cause you to make mistakes in execution, or even get there too late. Sometimes you have to kill the cash cow, or make personnel updates before the crisis, to assure long-term business health.
I once served on the Advisory Board of a technical software executive who refused to believe that his product was no longer competitive, and insisted that sales and marketing were no longer doing their job.
Unfortunately, we were unable to convince him to initiate a broad product upgrade, until the damage was severe. Thus no amount of input will help, if you are not listening.
In today’s market, it takes more than listening to stay ahead of the crowd. It takes initiative, a mindset of planned obsolescence and innovation, and a concerted effort to “see around the corner,” to see things that your customers will need, even if they don’t realize it yet.
What have you done lately in your business to survive against the next Steve Jobs?
What do you think is the main reason why customers stay loyal to a brand? Price? Customer service? Or maybe regular discounts?
While these reasons also have an insignificant impact, the correct answer is as follows: customers don’t want to part ways with brands that are able to meet their every need.
In fact, according to recent surveys, more than 50 percent of consumers out there say they expect businesses to anticipate their needs and provide meaningful suggestions before contact.
So, that’s it? Meeting customers’ needs is the most influential factor that allows making them happy?
Yes, it is. But unfortunately, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Customer loyalty, therefore profits, come from anticipating customer needs and responding to them in a quick and appropriate way. But achieving this requires you to get in their head and gain their unique perspective.
For example, knowing your customers well doesn’t include knowing their favorite color or a sports team. Instead, you need to know where they work, what their short- and long-term professional and personal goals are, business challenges they’re struggling with, and so on.
On the one hand, this is a lot to learn. On the other hand, the more information you have, the better you can get at anticipating and meeting their needs. At some point, you will teach your customers how to deal with a problem before it even becomes a problem.
This will also mean that your product lines will be lined up with customers’ expectations before they have to turn to you for a new update, solution, feature, product, or service. Isn’t that amazing?
Now, let’s finally talk about how to anticipate the needs of customers. For that, we will use an infographic created by researchers from Proessaywriting. It has eight excellent strategies for you to steal, backed up with research data and statistics.
So be a real 21st century leader and learn what it takes to predict and meet new customer demands and advance your business. Every strategy in the infographic is added by a succinct explanation of why it works why you should use it.
Taking this comprehensive, data-led approach to studying and anticipating the behavior of your customers will enable you to realize why they select your business over others, how they interact with your business, and how they perceive your promotion.
You’ve given your customer a reason to come to your company in the first place and succeeded in solving one of your customer’s needs. Congratulations on a job well done. What’s next? Delivering another winner that will alleviate the next customer problem is key to the future of the company. But how do you best uncover the most important needs they have?
Here are four suggestions to help you gain success in this important endeavor:
1. Look for the next problem to solve, not which product to sell.
Remember that the problem you solve is always the most important thing. It’s more important than the product or service that you sell. It doesn’t matter if you are business to consumer or business to business – making decisions based on solving needs will lead to a better customer experience, which will lead to increased financial performance for your company.
A great example where this philosophy has begun (early stage) to take root is within healthcare. Many hospitals and health systems are increasingly focused on the patient experience and are beginning to see that solving the critical moments within a patient’s journey is intrinsically tied to their performance.
2. Pay attention and mine the future demand from the next needs of current customers.
If you’re happy with the success you are having with your current customer base, it is easy to look to expand your product or service to new customers. It’s vital to pause at this point. Stop. Consider your current customers as part of your future initiatives. Don’t overhaul your client base. They’ve been your bread and butter to date. Deny the urge to leave them behind for the shiny new customers preparing to knock down your door.
Alienating current customers could have a negative, if not devastating, effect on new business. Find a way to include them in the new equation. The technology industry does this well. The sheer number of mobile applications that have been developed using customer input to solve everyday needs is evidence. You may find your current customers provide even more positive impetus to that new product than those new customers waiting at your door. Your customers may not be able to tell you exactly what they need, but they can show you with their behavior if you are paying attention.
3. Let customers try before they buy.
Sometimes it’s necessary for your customers to try before they buy something new. This is why most technology applications and programs today have a free option with just enough features to make you want the paid version with all of the bells and whistles. Focus on allowing your customer’s point of view to trump your desire to dazzle them with new products immediately. Helping customers leverage the investment they’ve already made is a way to build trust and deepen a relationship. Make sure the customer recognizes you’re building on mutual, shared interests before trying to sell them the next thing. This gives you stronger relationships and additional revenue.
4. Give customers an easy way to share their ideas.
Hold a two-way conversation in multiple places and engage the customer in ways you can further alleviate their pain points or solve problems.
You must create open, inviting channels for them to use and effective ways to capture what they say and do. This can take the form of direct customer feedback via online forums, customer advisory boards, or phone conversations. Think about how often you are asked for your feedback by hotels, airlines, and other businesses in the travel and hospitality industries. These companies are capturing the voice of their customers to better their products and services.
Identifying additional potential problems or areas where customers are not fully satisfied can drive innovation. Testing those innovative ideas precisely and quickly will allow you to sink your teeth into the bigger, more time-consuming projects with more clarity.
In the end, you’re only as good as your customers say you are. Successful organizations devote the necessary time and resources to locate and alleviate their major pain points. They strive to deliver consistent wins for their customer’s needs, and their customers keep coming back for more.
What is your organization doing to accurately anticipate customer needs?
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You’ve probably heard a story or two of exceptional customer experiences where consumers are completely caught off guard by attentive and proactive service. The observant hotel employee that rescues a beloved stuff animal or the considerate customer service agent who sends a gift card along with an exchanged item to make up for a shipping error.
Some companies seem to have an uncanny ability to get ahead of their customer’s issues. Ask any of them and they probably won’t say “it just happens”. This type of dedication to creating exceptional customer service is created by design and is usually built into the culture of the company.
Anticipating customer needs can seem daunting, after all, you can’t read minds. The good news is that your customers don’t expect you to read their minds, but they do want you to anticipate the problem they are trying to solve and help them reach a resolution as quickly as possible.
For all of the work it requires to make anticipating customer needs happen, the payoff is well worth it. Let’s take a look at how to anticipate customer needs and what it means to your customer service.
Disrupt expectations and increase accessibility
When we walk into a store, we expect clean, organized displays and friendly staff. When we research a company online, we expect to find some digital presence – a website or social media profile, perhaps some reviews. As consumers, we are trained to expect certain experiences during our entire relationship with a company.
Regardless of whether we’re shopping for a vacation getaway, office supplies, or a new car loan from your credit union, there is a certain level of convenience and responsiveness that consumers expect. The absence of these things can degrade the customer experience.
The converse is also true when it comes to interrupting the day to call customer service, waiting on hold to speak to a representative, or having to wait days for an email response. There are certain things within your customer’s journey that they’ve come to expect and dread. If these dreaded experiences were removed it would greatly improve their experience.
You don’t need a crystal ball to see that consumers are using mobile devices to communicate and prefer the ease and convenience of engaging in messaging channels such as SMS, web chat, and social media. Implementing messaging to reduce wait times, deflect calls, and provide faster assistance disrupts and resets the consumer expectation that contacting a company for help is slow and inconvenient.
At Quiq, we help our clients provide convenient ways for customers to engage with a brand and allow consumers to reach out to companies on their terms. Communicating with companies via messaging is still pretty new and we’ve seen so many consumers respond with surprise and delight at the ability to text a company for help.
Set a precedent
The biggest problem across the customer experience lifecycle are communication inefficiencies. As consumers, we’ve all experienced the inconvenience and dismay of having to navigate an IVR system, wait on hold, or wait for an email response from brands when we need help.
During these moments of need, we want the ability to reach out to a company without having to interrupt our day to receive fast, convenient help. Customer loyalty is won (or lost) at these moments of need.
Aligning your people, processes, and technology to reduce effort, increase personalization. and maximize value will allow you to set a precedent for the kind of service your customers can expect in the future. Imagine how your customers would perceive your brand if they were able to text a question to your contact center and get immediate help and resolution. No interruptions to their day, no inconvenience or waiting involved.
When your customer expects to be taken care of, they can engage with your company without feeling that they have to play offense, which leads to more pleasant interactions for both sides. Customers will expect every interaction to be positive and anticipate you will do whatever it takes to resolve their issue.
Influence and win customer loyalty
We’ve touched on customer loyalty in earlier posts, but we can’t stress the importance of winning your customer’s loyalty enough. In a digital-first age, where customers have so many choices, winning customer’s loyalty is more important than ever before and customer service has become a major competitive advantage.
When it comes to customer loyalty, good customer service matters. CCW’s research on customers engagement preference shares some very compelling statistics
- 70% of customers demand resolutions on the first contact,
- 69% view speed as a top priority,
- 66% value friendly, personable agents, while
- 65% utterly oppose waiting on hold!
Significant numbers of customers also prioritize agent knowledge (65%), effort level (64%) and 24/7/365 access (55%) when interacting with businesses. There’s no question that we are in the age of customer-centricity, so these consumer demands should come as no surprise.
Forbes recently reported that 67 percent of customers have become “serial switchers” and are willing to switch brands because companies fail to create positive, emotional experiences that drive loyalty. The path to struggling businesses are paved with bad experiences such as customers on lengthy holds and brands not being available at the customers moment of need.
Predict future needs
Unless you really do have a crystal ball or have suddenly honed your ability to read tarot cards, you can’t anticipate every unique situation that may come your way. Sure, there are some customer issues that may be frequent and obvious enough that you can anticipate their exact need, like needing to change a delivery or service date or receiving the wrong color and want help with an exchange. Regardless of the issue, the one thing you can anticipate is that your customer wants resolution in the fastest, most pain-free way possible.
Quiq is helping companies across multiple industries do just that through messaging. We enable customers to engage with their favorite brands with the same ease and convenience they talk to family and friends. Whether a customer needs to text you to ask about an exchange or new car loan, needs assistance via chat in finding and buying the perfect gift, or wants to schedule a service and pay for it through Apple Business Chat, Quiq Messaging is the solution that powers those seamless connections.
Quiq makes it easy for customers to contact a business via Messaging, the preferred channel already in use with friends and family. With Quiq, customers can engage with companies via SMS/text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Web Chat, In-App, and Kik for help with their pre-sales and post-sales questions. In return, companies get a digital engagement platform to communicate with customers. Try it out yourself today with a free demo!
Listening is overrated when it comes to creating an exceptional customer experience. Your customers will only tell you what they think they need, but how you meet their unexpressed needs makes all the difference. As a communication expert, I focus on what leaders have to say and how they say it. While studying brands that are considered the gold standard in customer service, however, I’ve found that what customers don’t say is just as important—perhaps more important—than what they do say. Brands and individuals who offer radically superior customer service stand out because they anticipate unexpressed needs or wishes.
I recently brought my family to a 5-Star San Diego resort, The Grand Del Mar, named the #1 hotel in the United States by Trip Advisor. It sits on a beautiful property in the hills, but there are plenty of gorgeous locations in San Diego. It’s the “attentive” service that Trip Advisor featured in its review and has earned my loyalty. But exactly what does the staff do that sets them apart and, more important, what can all businesses learn from their customer service techniques? The Grand Del Mar’s customer service ‘secret’ became very clear to me on this recent visit—the staff finds small ways to unexpectedly delight their customers and they do so by anticipating unexpressed wishes. Here are just a few of many examples I noted:
-My daughters discovered a small sand area near the pool. Within seconds—not minutes—a staff member casually walked by and, without saying a word, dropped off sand toys for the kids. The kids looked up and there they were, seemingly out of nowhere.
-The valet brought up our car and asked where we were heading. “Legoland,” the kids shouted! By the time I had finished loading the trunk, the valet had placed four water bottles in the car. “It’s hot today. You’ll need these,” he said.
-Vanessa and I decided to treat ourselves to a special occasion dinner in the hotel’s premium restaurant. The hotel offered an inviting play area for children, called The Explorers Club. The dinner was running a bit longer than the kids club would remain open and the restaurant’s location was a 5-minute walk back to the main hotel. “I noticed that you had courtesy cars at the lobby. Can we request one to pick us up as soon as we’re finished?” I asked the waiter. “It’s already been done. The car is waiting,” he responded. “And we informed the club that you’re on your way.”
At the end of our stay, the hotel desk employee asked if we had our boarding passes and if we needed directions. I asked the person why everyone seems to anticipate the needs of a guest. “It makes us stand out,” he said. The employee was exactly right. The reason why this level of service leaves a positive impression—and why you, as a leader, must coach to it—is because it happens so infrequently that customers will pay a premium for it. I’ve studied the best brands in the area of customer service and all of them train employees to anticipate unexpressed wishes. It’s a key component to an exceptional customer experience.
The Ritz-Carlton is probably the most famous brand that follows this technique. All employees are trained to “anticipate each guest’s needs.” Anticipation is the second of three steps that employees follow to earn a guest’s loyalty (Step one is “A warm and sincere greeting and step three is providing a “fond farewell”).
One of the consistent steps of the Apple Store customer service model is to “Listen for and resolve expressed and unexpressed needs.” For example, many first-time Mac customers are anxious about the changing over from the PC-based environment they’ve grown accustomed to using. A salesperson (specialist) trained in active listening would pick up on this hesitation and proactively recommend Apple Store services such as free data migration and free classes.
I recently wrote about a new hospital in Dallas that is completely reimaging the patient experience. In The Hospital Steve Jobs Would Have Built, I revealed the steps of service at the new Walnut Hill Medical Center. One of the key steps is to “Address the patient’s concerns, questions and needs, both expressed and unexpressed.” A diagnosis or hospital visit is a confusing time for most people who think about questions long after they’ve returned home. Anticipating questions provides a better experience, makes the patient feel better, and results in fewer follow-up calls, allowing the staff more time to care for their current patients.
I recently spoke to a group of hundreds of in-home designers who work for a well-known brand. Prior to my keynote I interviewed some of the brands’ top “producers,” or salespeople. The number one saleswoman in the company told me the secret to her success was “listening for unexpressed needs.” For example, a customer requested a consultation. Due to scheduling conflicts, the saleswoman would not be able to meet with the customer for five days. The customer verbally said he was fine with it, but it was clear by the tone of his voice that he wanted it done sooner. The saleswoman moved things around in her calendar, called the customer back and met with him that day. That consult resulted in the biggest commission of her 13-year career with the company.
Listening to your customer is great and will guarantee average or even above-average service. But 5-star brands know something most others do not—what customers don’t say is often more important than what they do say. Delight your customers in surprising ways and you’ll earn their loyalty.
Carmine Gallo is the communication coach for the world’s most admired brands, a popular keynote speaker, and author of Talk Like TED and The Apple Experience; Secrets To Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty.
I am a keynote speaker, bestselling author, and communication advisor for leaders at the world’s most admired brands. I’ve written nine books that have been published in
I am a keynote speaker, bestselling author, and communication advisor for leaders at the world’s most admired brands. I’ve written nine books that have been published in more than 40 languages. My new book is Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great. It shows readers how to master the ancient art of persuasion to thrive in the modern age of automation and artificial intelligence. My Forbes column provides actionable insights to deliver awe-inspiring presentations, tell your brand story, elevate your status, sell your ideas and products, engage employees, and achieve greatness at a time when your ideas are your most valuable currency. My new book, Five Stars, can be found here.
What’s the difference between reactive service and proactive service? In this piece, we’re going to cover:
The difference between proactive and reactive service.
Ultimately, when you know everything about your customer, it’s that much easier to anticipate their needs and truly delight them with memorable, meaningful service. The key differentiator between proactive and reactive service boils down to your customers’ wants and needs. Reactive service solves for a want—a customer wants a refund, for example—and your team delivers a solution. On the other hand, proactive service solves for a need. That means it may be something they haven’t even asked for, like a faster delivery to avoid an incoming storm that might cause delays. The question is: how can you know what your customers need before they do to deliver high-quality, proactive service?
The answer is a combination of predictive analytics and human insights. You need to be able to identify issues or opportunities by drawing conclusions from data, and by having an engaged team of agents that know everything about your customers and are always looking out for new ways to delight them. But no matter how good your agents are, if you don’t have the data and single customer view that will enable them to understand everything about your customers, it’s very difficult to be proactive. When you have all of your customer information in one system, across all of your platforms, you can create the kind of granular searches for customers that account for specific behaviors or qualities. You can identify customers by when they made their last order, their location, their sentiment, and more—making it far easier to surprise and delight them.
Delivering personal, intuitive service is also crucial to a proactive approach. That doesn’t mean simply responding to a customer’s query on their channel of choice. It means knowing them better than they know themselves. To be smart, personal, proactive, and timely requires a lot of moving parts to come together.
You need the foundational data that gives you a complete understanding of your customer in one place, for a start. This data has to be stored in a secure, central location that is still accessible. This can be a system you’ve created in-house or a third-party CRM—the important thing is security and usability.
Once you’re gathering and storing all of this information, you can begin to act on it. That requires the right mechanism—a combination of trained employees and features within your software platform—to connect with customers over their preferred channel with the right personalized message. Being able to do that is the Holy Grail of customer experience, but of course getting there is not as simple as following a few steps. It’s an involved process that is deeply connected to the details of your business and customers, getting there can take years of work and considerable investment.
What Proactive Service Isn’t
Proactive service isn’t just about predicting what your customers want. Anticipating customer needs is stronger than a prediction. To anticipate means that you have the necessary data and understand exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Sometimes proactive service will nudge your customers towards the next part of your journey, but not necessarily. Sometimes it’s just about preventing an issue or simply making their day. To do that consistently, you’ll need the right data, combined with the right workflows in place, and the permissions from your customer to collect and use that data in the way you’ve stated.
How Proactive Service Can Help
Proactive service can provide a wealth of benefits to your customers and your business. But when does it make sense to take a proactive approach, instead of letting your customers come to you?
Let’s say your customer is trying to return one of your products. Since they’ve already filled out a form with all of their information, it’s easy to offer a higher-quality replacement instead. This way you can easily surprise and delight your customer with an unexpectedly generous offer instead of a rote return process. And this is relatively simple to do as well. You can easily alert your agents when customers submit a return for a specific item. You can even tier your response, only alerting agents about returns by customers who have been customers for a certain amount of time, have spent a certain amount of money, or have completed a certain number of transactions. The more relevant information you have at hand about your customers, the more specific and useful your outreach can be.
If your company deals in services instead of products, there are even more opportunities for proactive service. If a customer has to reschedule their flight or book another time for a cleaning, that’s a pretty classic example of a reactive experience. You probably don’t know if your customers’ schedules are going to change before they do. However, you do know whether a flight or an appointment has to change on your end. Instead of simply updating your customers and letting them deal with the change, you can reach out with new options and take a more consultative approach. For a more complex issue, you can even have an agent connect personally and help them find a solution.
Being proactive is about thinking from the customer’s perspective. All the data and analytics in the world won’t help you deliver a better quality experience if you aren’t able to do that. Only once you are intimately familiar with their needs and problems will you be able to give them what they need before they know they need it. If you want to deliver truly proactive service, that’s where you need to start.
I am the CEO and founder of Kustomer, the next-generation platform for customer experience, service and support. I have been building CX and customer service software
As we hit and pass the year mark of this pandemic, it’s a great time to revisit some popular conversations that I’ve had with leaders in a wide range of industries. We’ve learned so much about how to reorient our businesses towards customers and our employees during this unprecedented time. I’ve seen changes accelerated in ways never experienced before, and this is only the beginning.
Today, I’m revisiting a conversation I had with Leslie Stretch, the President and CEO of Medallia, a SaaS platform leading the market in the understanding and management of experience for customers, employees and citizens . Leslie talks about how the pandemic has become “digital disruption at massive scale,” and the positive impacts this can have on the customer experience.
Leslie is quite passionate about using technology to analyze customer data, and to understand and anticipate customer needs. You’ll find a lot of value in our conversation. Enjoy!
What Should Customers and Leaders Expect in the Future Regarding In-Person Experiences?
“The future is a hybrid” of experiences, says Leslie. In our conversation, we discuss that there will be times where you do things in person, and there will continue to be times where you connect digitally. He believes that in the grand scheme of things, we should reconsider the amount of non-essential traveling we do to the office and for other events.
Take Advantage of All the Feedback You Can Analyze from Customers
“And now we can use technology to talk to millions of customers at once and the machine reads the feedback and analyzes it for us, so we can leverage the technology. And I think that’s really important. So not interacting with your customers when the technology is there and being connected, especially now seems to be a missed opportunity,” says Leslie, regarding collecting feedback from customers. “There’s ways to listen and talk and watch at scale. Taking advantage of it will save lots of product iterations, it will save lots of modest changes.”
Determine How You’ll Interact with Your Customers in the Long-Term
Leslie says, as a leader. you have to “think about the vision of the future. What’s the future? And how do you think about the long term? I think that’s key. How do you think about the interaction of the all the constituents? You know, if you’re not serving their employee, community, your team members there — you’re one of them, too. How do you expect them to serve up a fabulous customer experience?”
“A great litmus test question for me is what do you do even if you’re not using technology? How do you think about that interaction with everyone from the frontline individual contributor to the manager, to you know, the back office? How do you think about those people and their roles and their contribution and connection with the customer? What are you doing to make that connection for everybody in the company?”
About Leslie Stretch
Leslie is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Medallia. Prior to joining Medallia, he was President of Callidus Software for 10 years, leading it through its $2.4 billion acquisition by SAP.
Leslie Stretch received a B.A. Honors degree in Economics and Economic History from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Wix Answers, the industry’s first customer support platform to solve modern support challenges and create impactful change for your business.
This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Wix Answers! Enjoy the show!
Identifying Customer Needs
Identifying customer needs is mission-critical for businesses looking to create a product that truly speaks to their customers’ problems. Not to mention, the easiest way to position your brand smartly in the market is to unite your internal teams behind the specific needs of your customers.
What are customer needs?
Customer needs are the named and unnamed needs your customer has when they come in contact with your business, your competitors, or when they search for the solutions you provide.
To identify the needs of your customers, solicit feedback from your customers at every step of your process. You can identify customer needs in a number of ways, for example, by conducting focus groups, listening to your customers or social media, or doing keyword research.
However, identifying the needs of your customers is easier said than done. In our experience, there are a couple easy ways to gain insight into what your customers need from you.
Methods to Identify Customer Needs:
- Focus Groups
- Social Listening
- Keyword Research
For more resources to help you identify and understand the needs of your customers, check out our guide: Understanding Your Customer’s Needs and Wants in 3 Easy Steps.
Anticipating Customer Needs
Customers don’t part ways with brands that meet their every need. By anticipating customer needs, you can ensure that your product lines up with their expectations before they even have to ask for a new feature, service, or solution from you.
One of the earliest ways to determine your customer’s needs is to conduct keyword research. Think about how you function as a consumer. When you have a question about a product you’re using, is your first step to call the company and ask? Or is your first step to open Google and search for the answer to your question? Most consumers would choose the latter.
That means the secret needs of your customers actually reside in how they search for your product, your company, or your services online. For this reason, keyword research will give you the earliest insight into the needs of your customers.
Meeting Customer Needs
This is where the going gets tough. Because, once you have knowledge and data around what your customer needs from you, the next step is integrating that knowledge into already existing processes. Often this can mean revamping an entire marketing campaign. You may even need to plan, build and execute on a brand new facet of your product. Each business will have to approach this step differently, but we’ve created a framework for how you can identify, understand and meet customer needs.
How to Meet the Needs of Customers:
You can follow a simple, four-step procedure to meet the needs of customers.
- Identify what your customers need from you through keyword research, focus groups, or social listening.
- Distribute the information to relevant stakeholders in your organization.
- Craft product features or create content that speaks to your customer’s needs.
- Collect customer feedback on how your efforts meet their expectations.
After you’ve identified what your customer needs from you, take the data you’ve collected seriously. If customers (or potential customers) are asking for something, big or small, make sure you deliver. Businesses that have a developed methodology for how they collect and share customer insights within their org will have the best luck at meeting customer needs quickly.
For some businesses, that could mean assigning a dedicated team to collect customer insights. Other businesses may be able to roll it into the responsibilities of existing departments. If you develop a strong system for how you discover, analyze and address customer needs, your organization will be set up for long-term success. So take the time and put in the legwork.
Why is it important to meet customer needs?
All of today’s most successful businesses take steps to meet customer needs early and often. For the modern marketer, taking strides to make sure your customers needs are met will help you align with other internal teams at your organization, like your sales team, customer support team, and your product team. With your whole organization operating under a cyclical process of anticipating, identifying and meeting customer needs, you’ll see results in no time.
Looking for more resources? If you’re looking to understand, identify and meet your customer’s needs, you’re already practicing customer-first marketing. What’s customer-first marketing? We’re glad you asked.