The customer’s needs come first at any level of business, and as the old saying goes: they are always right! To satisfy a customer, we need to first understand their needs and requirements. After all, you don’t want to spend money, time and resources developing a product/service that the customer doesn’t need.
So, what is the best process for understanding our customers? Let’s jump in and get started!
- Develop your customer segments
Begin researching your customers’ needs by segmenting them based on their likeness to purchase your product. You know what you’re selling and who your audience is, so now is the time to discover what markets they operate in, their income, hobbies/interests, locations etc.
Once you have segmented the customer into custom categories, you will be in a better position to bring accuracy to your marketing campaign.
- Interview the customer
Modern market research methods deal with big data to inform decision making, but this quantitative and somewhat detached tactic does not take into account personal thoughts and feelings on a product/service. Interviewing the customer provides a more honest account of their needs and expectations.
The types of questions you should be asking include:
- What was the hardest part?
- Why was it hard?
- How do you solve it?
- How did it work?
- Create a customer persona
Using the data gathered from customer segmentation and interviews, you are now in a position to create a persona of the ideal customer. A persona includes key elements of a person such as their job, location, hobbies/interests, buying habits, goals and motivations.
Create multiple personas to represent the broad spectrum of customers who you will encounter in business. By understanding these personas, you are one step closer to understanding your real customers.
- Build a strong value proposition
A good value proposition describes the following:
- How your product or service solves/improves problems
- What benefits customers can expect
- Why customers should choose your products over the competition
If you know your product, then make sure you focus on solving the customer’s problem. If you cannot describe what issue you are fixing by releasing your product, then you do not understand the customer. Put yourself in their shoes and assume the perspective of an average buyer of your product.
- Explore the customer journey
The marketplace is a journey. From start to finish, the customer must gain informative but persuasive information that serves to do two things: remove any doubt from making a purchase and make a promise to solve their problem. The core essence of a customer’s needs is happiness.
Happiness means their issue has been solved and their needs are met. If you can guarantee to make them happy in this context, then you are one big step closer to not only understanding their needs, but to also close the sale. Start by analysing your website and the journey a customer takes by navigating its pages.
- Analyse the competition
Your competition is very easy to track thanks to social media, and the following questions must be asked when investigating your rivals:
- How are they solving their customer problems?
- What form does the product/service take?
- How are we different? Can we differentiate our offering and positioning?
- What type of revenues are being generated?
- Where are they selling?
- Evaluate market opportunities
The marketplace is ever-evolving and shifting along with the needs of our customers. Opportunities await the savvy entrepreneur who can both identify them and exploit them, but evaluation comes first. To evaluate a market opportunity, you need to have your eyes on multiple channels of communication, such as social media, online news and magazine outlets, industry events, business contacts and more.
Once you have followed the steps above to understanding the current needs of your customer, you must then anticipate their future needs. Markets change, as do attitudes and lifestyles as our way of life evolves with the passing years. Always look out for changes in the industry and any potentially lucrative opportunities that will surely arise on your entrepreneurial journey.