Customer needs and expectations are ever changing. Identifying, analyzing, and meeting customer needs is the key to providing better customer service and growing your business. In this blog, we cover the A-Z of customer needs to help you create a product or service that is in line with everything that your customers need.
What are customer needs?
Simply put, a customer need is a driving factor that pushes consumers to look for and purchase a product or service. These needs might solve a challenge they are facing, they might pertain to a service they require in order to accomplish a task, they might be solutions that make their lives easier or more comfortable – broadly, it is anything that pushes them towards a purchase decision. Unsurprisingly, most businesses are created to offer solutions for customer needs.
For instance, there’s a section of customers who do not have the time to go out and pick up groceries. To cater to the needs of these customers, online, on-demand grocery stores such as Walmart Grocery and Grofers were launched.
Customers can now get their daily, weekly, and monthly supplies delivered right from home. The fact that customers were looking for a more convenient solution can be easily derived here.
But is convenience the only reason why customer needs arise? Not really.
In addition to convenience, there are two other factors that drive customer needs. Let’s explore the three factors in detail.
Where do customer needs stem from?
Analyzing customer needs gives you the reason why customers purchase your product or service.
In a business context, customer needs stem from the desire to:
– Increase convenience: 97% of consumers say they have backed out of making a purchase because of inconvenience.1 In the previous example, by shopping for groceries online customers are optimizing for convenience. In fact, the more convenience a solution offers, the more likely are customers to purchase.
– Improve efficiency: Customers are constantly looking for better ways of doing something. For instance, creating to-do lists is a good way to be efficient. However, most people don’t stop with to-do lists alone. They also set up reminders that help them complete their task on time, and thereby further improve their efficiency. It’s this need that was served with the launch of apps such as Evernote.
– Reduce costs: In addition to increasing convenience and efficiency, customers need solutions that help them reduce costs. For instance, lean customer service teams turn to self-service and chatbots to cut down spending on other resources, such as a bigger workforce, on-premise teams, and round-the-clock staffing
Most businesses only take stock of customer needs at the time of the inception of the business. However, that might not be the wisest thing to do. Here’s why.
Why are customer needs important?
As a business, understanding the reason why your customers purchase from you, and staying on top of changing customer expectations helps you stay purpose-driven. This helps you:
– Create clear business goals and KPIs for employees
– Improve your product and service
– Keep your customers happy and increase customer loyalty
– Grow your business
Now that we’ve covered all the basics, let’s take a look at the different types of customer needs.
15 types of customer needs you should know about
1. Intuitive design
When it comes to technology, usability is an extremely important customer need.
A well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to 200%, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%.2 This goes to show that customers want products that offer seamless user experiences.
In addition to good UI and UX, products also need to have good accessibility to cater to the needs of the specially-abled customers.
Customers want products that are centered around their solving for their needs. To put this in perspective, the functionalities of your product should address and adapt to the user’s environment, tasks, goals, and in time, incorporate customer feedback into the product to make sure you’re delivering the most useful, impactful product.
Evernote, a note-taking app, increased user retention by 15% after launching intuitive, helpful features.3 This increase was the result of changes that were incorporated after listening to users narrate their experiences and monitoring how users interacted with the product.
Cost tends to be a key factor while making a purchase. You need to come up with a pricing plan that is cognizant of this customer need in order to keep your business successful.
Especially with the advent of the pandemic, affordability has become all the more important. Globally, 54% of consumers say price is a more important purchasing criterion than it was just a month ago.4
No matter how elegant the product looks, customers would still abandon the product if it fails to perform well.
While minor bugs are inevitable, the product should not crash often and hinder customers.
When it comes to purchasing software, customers are increasingly basing their purchase decisions on how much effort is required in adding your solution to their existing tech stack. That’s why your product needs to be compatible with the other tools that they are using. This basic yet critical necessity enables customers to plan their workflows around their existing tech stack.
9 out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication methods.5
Omnichannel customer service allows you to keep track of customer conversations across all channels from a single view and provide a uniform customer experience.
Omnichannel support removes the need for customers to repeat their issues and 57% of baby boomers and 45% of millennials get irritated at having to repeat themselves.6 This forces brands to offer an omnichannel service experience.
Customers need brands to be transparent and share information upfront. So, it’s important to make it easy for customers to access the right information throughout the customer journey. This will help them make the right buying decision and also build trust in your brand.
When customers run into an issue with your product or service, the sooner they get a solution, the faster they can get back to their routine lives.
According to recent research, 42% of customers consider 1-3 minutes to be the acceptable wait time to speak to a customer service representative. Only 31% of customers are willing to wait no longer than 5 minutes to speak to someone.7
So, as a business, you need to offer fast and effective solutions.
9. 24/7 support
51% of customers today want businesses to be available 24/7.8 If your business is spread across different geographies, then it’s absolutely necessary that you provide 24/7 support.
Additionally, if your business is a part of the travel, healthcare, or finance industry, then it’s imperative for you to support your customers around the clock. Customers in these industries often tend to have critical and time-sensitive issues that need to be tended to immediately
Customers today want experiences that are tailored to them. In fact, 63% of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service.9
Customers need to see tailored responses and solutions that address even the minor details of the issue reported. This helps them believe that the conversation was unique and personal.
Costumes feel the need to be validated while using your product. For instance, while using a customer service software, agents look at response and resolution times or leaderboards for reassurance, while managers might look at reports and analytics.
Customers like to be in control of things and your product or service should empower them to feel that way.
For instance, if you offer a B2B product, you need to enable your customers to easily customize your product, upgrade or downgrade plans, and generate thorough reports on their own.
If you offer a B2C product, then you need to give your customers multiple payment options and allow them to track and monitor delivery.
When your customers come to you with a problem, they want to feel heard and understood.
Customers look for that human element when they interact with brands. They don’t want to be met with to-the-point or curt responses.
For customers to be able to trust you, they need to be treated like a friend, and not as a transaction.
For instance, at Freshworks, we treat each of our customers as friends and build relationships that are based on trust, and transparency.
All customers expect to be treated equally. While you can offer perks for loyal customers, when it comes to customer service, all requests should be treated with the same importance and urgency.
In the words of Shep Hyken,
“All customers should all be treated with dignity, respect, and the attention any human deserves. They should all be treated in a way that is consistent with your brand promise and the reputation you wish to be known for.”
The 15 types of customer needs that have been listed here can be seen across all businesses. Let’s take a look at how you can identify customer needs that are unique to your business.
How to identify customer needs?
Conducting market research (a thorough study of your target markets and customers) helps you gather information about your customers and narrow down on their needs.
In this section, we’ll discuss different ways in which you can conduct market research.
Regardless of which method you choose, by the end of your research, you need to find answers to the following questions:
– What is the definition of your ideal customer? [average age, qualification, characteristics]
– What do they do? [what is their job and how is their environment]
– What were they trying to achieve by purchasing your product? [the reason why they bought your product]
– Is your solution meeting this goal? [reality check]
– Are they facing any pain-points? If yes, what are they? [your weakness]
– Do they have any product or feature requests?
– Is it their first time buying a solution in your space?
– If yes, which solution did they use before this?
– Why did they decide to look for another solution? [your strong points]
– Are they happy with your customer service?
How to meet customer needs?
Once you’ve analyzed your customer needs, you need to take the appropriate steps to solve them. Although your customer’s needs will be unique to your business, here are three key tips to increase customer happiness on the whole:
1. Develop a user-driven product
One way to get your customers’ needs solved is to keep them at the center of your design and development process. Here are a few tips that can help you create a user-driven product:
– Design for usability (don’t let aesthetics blind you)
– Offer an intuitive or self-service onboarding module
– Have a convenient pricing model
– Get feedback from customers on a continuous basis
– Incorporate valid feedback in your next cycle of product development
– Make it easy for customers to troubleshoot and report issues or bugs
– Educate your users by adding help guides/videos, or embedding FAQs or a chatbot
2. Offer better customer service
A good product alone is not enough to meet your customer’s needs. Customers are bound to run into bugs and other inconveniences with your product. Complementing your product with the best customer service possible is necessary to improve customer satisfaction.
3. Create a customer-focused culture
In a customer-centric or a customer-focused culture, every employee in your organization understands and prioritizes your customer’s needs first. So this mindset encourages each employee to do what’s best for the customer.
Customer-facing teams are the ones that benefit the most from thriving in a culture that puts the customer first. This empowers sales and support teams to engage in meaningful conversations and create memorable experiences that keep customers glued to your brand.
Parting words: Be proactive when it comes to customer needs
Once you’ve got the foundation of your business set, you need to start anticipating customer needs and look for creative ways to solve them in advance.
A customer service software like Freshdesk, you can meet and exceed customer needs and delight your customers by:
– offering omnichannel service
– collaborating with context
– collecting customer feedback with customized forms
– categorizing feedback and keeping relevant teams in the loop
– improving agent productivity
– increasing customer happiness.