How to Understand Your Customer Needs Better

2 min read
10/13/21 12:00 AM

The success of any product depends on understanding customer needs and providing a suitable solution to customer needs. Developing customer intimacy helps any Product management professional to understand:

  • Customers' needs and wants,
  • Customers' place in the market, and
  • Customers' present and future views.

Product management professionals can deepen Customer intimacy by:

  • Building empathy,
  • Understanding their concerns,
  • Being sensitive to their motivations,
  • Identifying with their needs, and
  • Clearly defining their problem.

Cultivating customer intimacy means understanding customers as real people by:

  • Creating a relationship with the customer.
  • Maintaining a presence, so customers feel they are being heard and valued.
  • Maintaining ongoing connection with feedback loops and engaging activities.
  • Inspiring customers to contribute to ongoing improvements.

1. Get Personal

To the extent possible, speak to prospective customers. It may be worthwhile to conduct focus groups to understand customer pain points. This deeper understanding often shows that customers may have different needs or preferences than initially assumed. Invest time and effort in establishing personal relationships with customers by adopting the following values in their interactions: Trust, Respect, Empathy, Appreciation, Communication, and Commitment.

Techniques for Customer Understanding

  • Persona
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Survey, or Questionnaire
  • Customer Journey Map
  • Customer Grouping

2. Build Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from their frame of reference. It means knowing the language of the customer and the perspectives of their world. It is not enough to build a feature within budget and within schedule. The feature must emotionally connect with customers and their experiences.

Crucial insights to build Empathy come from:

  • Establishing trust and safety
  • Making personal connections, and
  • Demonstrating sincere interest.
  • Creative and perceptive questioning:
    • Keeping aside personal experiences and biases,
    • Building awareness and clarifying assumptions, and
    • Using the "5 Why's" technique to get deeper answers.
Active Listening
  • Understanding the language of the customer, clarifying the meaning of ambiguous words.
  • Paying attention to body language (non-verbal communication),
  • Questioning if it doesn't fit with words that are spoken.
  • Providing compassionate understanding and responses.

Techniques for Building Empathy

  • Interviews
  • Observation
  • Empathy maps
  • Customer Journey maps

3. Engage in Observation

Observation elicits information through viewing and understanding activities, as well as their context. Observation is a basis for:

  • Identifying needs and opportunities,
  • Understanding business processes,
  • Setting performance standards,
  • Evaluating solution performance, or
  • Supporting training and development.

Engaging in observation requires alertness. It is an opportunity to witness and know the customer. Gather qualitative information from customer interactions with the product in its natural environment. Real-world use of the product enables the ability to track the sequence of activities when interacting with the product. This analysis builds on the knowledge about customer expectations for the product to be leveraged for product development.

Observations are growing in popularity for the value that is gained through the analysis of real-life scenarios. Organize hackathons, observation labs, and observation tools. Be aware of research ethics, privacy, and the need for permission for the observation activities.

Techniques for Observation

  • Observation

Do your share your thoughts on how you have been able to understand your customer needs better.

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