Quick Start: Understanding Customer Needs
A team is nothing without a customer to serve, but getting to know the customer can be a real challenge. Ask yourself the following questions to get your team aligned with your customer's needs:
- What do we already know about our customers? Every organization we've worked with already has information about their customers... but that information is splintered across teams and data sources. Gather what you already know about your customer by pulling together teams and pooling data. You don't need a perfect picture to start, you just need to start.
- How can we learn more about our customers? Now that you know what you have, you can identify what you're missing and create a plan to fill in the gaps. Depending on your budget and timing, consider tactics like surveys, customer intercepts, home visits, or user experience testing. Before getting started, though, get specific about exactly what you want to learn.
- What are our competitors doing? What trends are affecting the market? Find out where you stand in the market: how are other companies appealing to your customers? What are they missing? What's changing? What criteria are customers using to judge their options? And while it's helpful to benchmark the competition, don't focus on them to the exclusion of the customer.
- How do we translate insights into strategy? Once you have a deeper understanding of your customer and the market, gather your team to consolidate information and decide on a clear course of action. Remember that saying "no" to many opportunities may be required to focus on the right opportunity.
- How do we get the rest of the organization on board? Prevent other teams from facing the same challenge you had in Step 1. Schedule presentations and make friends in other teams so that information is as widely shared as possible, and everyone understands why you're making the decisions you're making.
Below, you'll discover simple methods that will elicit useful insights and techniques for reducing the distance between employees and everyday customers.
- How to Conduct a Customer Intercept: Follow this step-by-step plan to gather firsthand feedback from customers.
- Track Startups to Identify Emerging Customer Needs: Monitor startups in the aggregate to identify new opportunities.
- How Capital One Convinced Teams to Use Design Thinking: A renewed commitment to discovering customer needs helped the financial institution find new revenue opportunities.
- How Amazon Includes the Customer's Voice in Every Meeting: A simple technique to keep the customer front and center.
- How Facebook Recreates the Customer Experience: An example of how you can replicate market conditions in the office.
- How Twitter Finds Out What the Customer Really Wants: A strategy for getting your team into the field to learn directly from customers.
- How Airbnb Used Storyboards to Understand the Customer Experience: A visual tool to help teams understand their customers' needs.
- The 12 Questions Product Plan Asks to Get Better Customer Feedback: A checklist to ensure you're getting the information you need.