To stay relevant and meet customer demands, companies should continually reevaluate and update the way they are doing business. As the world evolves and technology advances, needs change, and thus so do your customers and their needs. Business innovation is a great way to stay ahead of trends and keep up with demands.
The question is, how do you determine what changes and innovations are right for your business specifically and your customers? If you’re asking yourself this, you are on the right path, as the key to understanding your customer’s needs is asking questions.
So, whether you are launching a new business, considering a shift in the products and services you offer, or simply what improvements to make to experience growth, this article will offer you tips on how to ask the right questions and use the information you collect to inform your business models going forward.
How to Determine What Your Customers Want and Need
Before you can ask what your customer’s needs are, it’s helpful first to understand the psychology behind a customer’s decision-making process. There are typically two drivers behind decision making and purchases:
- Physical Needs: Physical needs have a direct and measurable cause. These are the easiest needs to assess. For example, if your skin is dry, you need to buy moisturizer.
- Psychological Needs: Psychological needs are often driven more by desires and impulses than a direct need. To expand on the example above, you might need a moisturizer for your dry skin, but did you really need the rainforest-scented lotion in the sparkly green bottle—or would a more practical unscented moisturizer have sufficed?
The key to understanding customer needs is that there are almost always psychological motivators driving our decision-making processes, even when we just need something practical to suit our physical needs. It is our psychological needs that drive us to choose one brand or item over another. Once you understand how needs work, you’ll better understand what questions you need to ask.
There are a couple of different ways you can gather the information necessary to learn more about your customers and their needs.
1. Data Collection
Data analytics tools, like adverity.com, are a great way to indirectly observe your customer’s behaviors to evaluate their wants and needs. What pages on your website are they spending the most time on? What products are they buying the most? What services are the most popular? Data analytics offers you a way to measure your metrics to determine where you are doing well and where you are underperforming, and you can use that information to make any necessary changes.
2. Surveys and Polls
Of course, one of the easiest and most direct ways to determine what your customers need and want is to simply ask them. Surveys, for example, are great ways to get direct customer feedback to improve your performance and offerings. You can send these out in emails or place a poll directly on your website where customers can easily see and access it.
3. Study the Competition
Another way to get an idea of what customers need is to take a better look at your competitors. Who is doing well, and who isn’t? What products and services are the ones that are succeeding that you aren’t offering? What are they doing differently? You don’t want to copy what other businesses are doing, but you can look at their performance and their offerings to guide you in your decisions and the changes you make.
Use What You Learn from Your Customers to Guide Your Business Decisions
Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary data and information, you can then use it to inform your next steps. There are several ways you can shift your practices and make changes to meet customer demands, such as implementing new marketing and advertising strategies, changing the way products are sold, or removing/adding new products or services.
Targeted ads are one of the best ways to reach your target audience to give them what they need. The behavioral data you collected using data analytics can help inform your decisions when determining who to target, where to target them, and how best to appeal to their needs. Just be mindful not to slip into the realm of unethical targeting by pandering specifically to vulnerable populations and taking advantage of their insecurities. It’s important to be mindful, thoughtful, and operate with good intentions when employing targeted ads.
Subscription vs. Purchase-Based Business Model
It’s no secret that subscription-based services are all the rage in today’s society. We want things that are customizable and personalized to meet our specific needs, and we want them in a nice, cost-efficient package. However, not all products or services are best suited to a subscription-based business model. Furthermore, though they are popular, not all customers find them appealing.
It will be up to you and your team to use the data you collected to determine whether your customers would prefer single-item purchase-based offerings or personalized subscriptions. Some businesses use both models, finding that their customers like to have the choice of buying things individually or having them sent regularly through a subscription.
Reevaluate Products and Services
After collecting customer feedback or tracking their behaviors using data analytics, you may find it necessary to get rid of some products or services entirely. On the flip side, perhaps your customers are happy with what you have but would like some additions. You’ll need to carefully evaluate feedback to determine what needs to go, what needs to stay, and what needs to be added.
Employ Your Best Decision Makers
When it comes to making these changes, you want to utilize those who are most informed. Innovation certainly comes with its risks, so you want your best decision-makers to help make the calls. While you might think this would be your CEOs, directors, or managers, it’s often a good idea to bring in an outside perspective—people who have less stake in the company.
Suppliers, for example, or even a specialist whose job it is to help companies improve their performance. You can even utilize internal employees who relate specifically to the customers and audience you are targeting. Whoever you choose, just be sure that they have your customer’s best interests in mind and fully understand their needs.