How to Understand Customer Needs

ByThelma D. Griggs

Jul 23, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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We all know that businesses are supposed to solve problems. But more important to problem-solving is a business’s ability to respond to what customers want. One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is ignoring what customers say.

A good entrepreneur should first ask, “what is the problem for my customers?” In my industry of well-being, the answer is typically that people hate being tired, overworked, stressed out and unhappy.

Secondly, a good entrepreneur should ask, “how can this problem be addressed?” The answer, from the perspective of a wellness entrepreneur, is to create something of value that will help people ultimately be happier, more peaceful, inspired and grateful.

The imperative rule for entrepreneurs is to not ignore the problems that customers have. Listen to what your customers are asking for and absorb their needs. Only when you understand your customer’s needs can you then figure out ways to respond.

Here are four ways to make sure you don’t misunderstand your customer and ignore their needs.

Related: 7 Ways to Help Your Employees Become Better Problem-Solvers

1. Let your customer’s history and experience impact you

By listening to stories from your customers, you can begin to formulate the repetitive patterns that relate to your product or service. After gathering the information by asking questions, you’re in a position to make an informed decision about how to address the problem you’ve identified. Good entrepreneurs listen and reflect on their customer’s needs while processing how to act thoughtfully and quickly on those wants and needs.

Additionally, asking open-ended questions to your customers can help understand customer needs. For example, you may ask, “tell me about a time you used our product and what your experience was like?” The answer to this question and the story about a customer’s experience is often more valuable than a simple “yes” or “no” question. Understanding the context of the customer experience is invaluable for your business.

2. Ignore your assumptions

Yes, it is difficult to put aside your assumptions. But when it comes to being a good entrepreneur, letting go of assumptions is important to success. It’s important to stay unbiased and attentive. Sometimes the best ideas come from being attentive, like being open to customer feedback time and time again.

Bias can come from personal views or from people telling you that your product has minimal flaws or no room for improvement (even though that’s usually not true). Having the ability to refine and improve a service based on critical feedback is a valuable entrepreneurial practice.

For many entrepreneurs, this step is quite difficult because our product or service is often a reflection of our interests. This is not a bad thing because many of us love our business and the interests that inspired us to create it. But even though we may be keen on our product or service, unbiased approaches and attentiveness to customer needs will help drive perpetual success.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric

3. Make decisions using solid data

When a business starts, not all entrepreneurs will have ‘customer data’ or information to make initial decisions. However, combining customer feedback with market size data will provide a pathway to gathering solid data and statistics on your customer base and target demographic.

Gathering information is a critical part of your business. Use surveys and test the market within a smaller geographic region. Forgetting to do this step can be the end of a successful business. The success of Uber came with many small regional tests.

Businesses thrive on data in local and global economies. When a market is tested, and the demand is shown for a particular product, the need for that product is often found at the local level. Regardless of this demand, a business’s mission and goals must stay consistent.

Consumers may respond to attractive and consistent business missions, but your products and services must solve their problems. A successful business’s products and services should be invaluable to consumers. Using data and information to understand your customers is a vital part of becoming invaluable.

4. Build on success and look for new opportunities

When a business is market-tested and gains success, the act of looking for future opportunities helps with future success. There is no better way to attain this success than by doing sufficient research and implementing ideas. As a wellness entrepreneur, I always stay informed on the market trends in technology, clean energy, dieting, fitness, sleep and food. Look for ways to stay informed in your field.

Certainly, there are more nuances to customer satisfaction than I have mentioned. Albeit a complex topic, the tips above will help you get a successful business off the ground and stay in business indefinitely.

Related: 3 Super Simple Ways to Understand What Your Customer Wants

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