Customer Needs Analysis (Part 2)

Customer Needs AnalysisThe How

Last week we discussed the Who, What, When and the Why.  In doing this we looked at the fact that being good at marketing means that you are good at understanding and continually satisfying the most urgent and important needs of your primary customer target markets.  This week we are going to look at ‘How’ you go about completing your own customer needs analysis.

Three Steps to Get Right

Three Steps for completing your customer needs analysis for your primary customer target markets have been summarised below:

1.  Create a List of Customer Needs

If time permits I recommend that you create a list of customer needs that is broad and all encompassing.  Although you will almost immediately rationalise this list starting broad will ensure that you do not miss any important needs.

When I refer to needs I am talking about real needs (i.e. I need to cook a meal tonight) and perceived needs which can probably be described as strong wants or desires (i.e. I need to have a cold climate Tasmanian Pinot Noir with my meal tonight).

You may have the opportunity to review in-house findings such as customer service surveys, canvassing the opinions of senior and/or long-term staff.  It may be useful for you do some research to deepen your understanding of your customers needs and issues that are important to them.

You might also consider sitting down with key team members and brainstorming your list of needs.

2.  Feasibility Analysis

When you feel you have generated a list that is complete from the perspective of representing the needs of your primary target market you should then move on to the feasibility analysis step.

Here I recommend that you take the approach of evaluating and ranking each need from the perspective of feasibility.

By feasibility I am referring to the capacity of your business and brand to satisfy the needs of the primary target market on an ongoing basis.

Another way of describing feasibility in the context of customer needs is to consider the ease at which your business or brand can satisfy the most important needs.

When ranking each need in terms of feasibility you can use a numerical scale or simply High, Medium or Low in terms of the ease at which your business or brand can continually satisfy each need.

3.  Attach a Priority to Each Need

For your customer needs analysis exercise to be complete you need to have your final list of needs prioritized in a way that is useful when executing marketing and communications activities.  I suggest you prioritise your list in two key steps.

Firstly, attach a priority to each need.  To do this you can use a numerical ranking system or simply apply a High, Medium or Low to each need as appropriate.

The most important consideration here is to ensure that you are ranking the need from the perspective of the need’s importance to your primary target customers  (i.e. how important the need is to your customer).

Secondly, take a step back and look at the big picture.  Look at your list of needs in the context of Feasibility and customer Priority.  As you compare the evaluations of needs against the criteria of Feasibility and Importance to the Customer you will notice some common outcomes:

  • Some needs will be ranked low in terms of feasibility and also low on importance to the customer.  These are needs to be considered of low overall ranking.
  • Some needs will be highly-feasible (i.e. easy for you to satisfy the customer) but will be of low importance to the customer.  If they are of low importance to the customer then they too should be considered of low overall ranking.
  • Some needs will be of high importance to the customer but will be very difficult for you to satisfy (i.e. very difficult for you to satisfy the customer on an ongoing basis.  These are needs to be considered further depending on what other needs are ranked above them.
  • Some needs are both of high importance to the customer and are also highly feasible (i.e. very easy to continually satisfy the customer).  It is these needs that are exciting to uncover because if they are of high importance to the customer and also easy to deliver then they should be given the highest overall ranking.

Validating your Needs Analysis

Of course it is difficult to ever be 100% sure that you have fully determined your customers exact needs and the importance that they attach to it.  However, there are a variety of research methods that can be implemented in order to assist you in validating the assumptions and information upon which you have based your overall needs analysis.

When in doubt it does make sense to go and ask the customer!

At a top-line level some of these research methods and tools include the following:

  • Consumer research groups (e.g. focus groups)
  • In-depth research interviews (consumer and business customers)
  • Traditional customer surveys (consumer and business customers)
  • Online research and customer surveys (e.g. Survey Monkey etc.)
  • Desk top research and other information collection (e.g. industry benchmarks etc.)