November 5, 2018 9:00:00 AM EST

Is Your Company Meeting the Needs of Your Customer?

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen says that of the 30,000 new products launched each year for consumers 95% of them end up failing. That’s a pretty high failure rate. It’s safe to say that nobody who launches a new or improved product wants to be in that 95%. So, how do you know if your product or service meets identifiable customer wants and needs? Many organizations turn to extensive market research to find this out. This can be helpful, but one source companies often forget about is their customers. If you want to find out if you’re meeting your customers' wants and needs, who better to ask than the people using your product or service? What sets it apart from those offered by other companies? Why do they even need it in the first place?

Listening to Customers’ Needs

These are all very valuable questions and answers for your organization, straight from the mouths of people who actually patronize your business. Use your customers to identify the need and work backwards from there to create the perfect product or service. Even for existing products, it’s a good exercise to talk to your customers and make sure you’re fulfilling their wants and needs. Customers may not realize it, but they purchase products and services similar to how companies hire employees. There’s a job that needs to be done, you interview different candidates to fill that job in the best way possible, then you make an informed decision. A customer’s wants and needs are really just a job that needs to be filled. Let’s say customer has a lawn that needs to be well kept. So, they look for a lawn mower to fill that job. But what do they look for in a lawnmower? Is it a big yard so a riding mower is needed or is it small enough for a push mower? These questions go through your customers head as they make a choice of what item to purchase to fulfill this need.

What Motivates a Customer?

What you need to do is find out what questions your customer is asking during their “interview” process with your product or service. What are the most important factors in their decision? Price, quality and convenience are all usually high on people’s list, but what wins out? That depends on the product and the person. Personally, price often wins out for me at the grocery store, where as if I’m looking for someone to build my website, I want to know I have quality work. Convenience will make my decision for getting gasoline for my car almost every time. I will pay more per gallon to avoid driving out of my way. Now of course, in all of that is a little brand loyalty as well. Heinz ketchup always, right Pittsburgh? And when it comes to gas, I may drive past a gas station I’m unfamiliar with to go to one with a name I recognize. These are some of the pieces of information you need from your customer. What’s the driving factor when people are considering your product or service? Once purchased, is your product meeting their needs and wants as expected? Many people will have no issues with taking the time to answer these questions if you ask them directly.

Collecting Customer Feedback

Rarely will a customer stop and put helpful information in a suggestion box, or just call you up at random to tell you why they like your product. Most people only reach out to talk to you when they are unsatisfied. To find out why they are satisfied, you have to reach out to them.You can do this with surveys, direct phone calls, focus groups, social media and various other methods. The important thing is to be sincere in your questions. Ask questions you truly want to know the answer to and respect whatever the answer is. If you have a storefront, it’s not a bad idea to plant someone on site to ask customers why they are making the purchases they are.The main point is that you need to have conversations with your customers—as many as you can. In addition to learning how to make and sell products that answer their wants and needs you’re also building a relationship with them and fostering their loyalty to your brand. People like to give their opinions and remember when you ask for them.

Meet Your Customers’ Needs with Aspirant CompetitivEdge

Is your company meeting the wants and needs of your customers? Connect with Aspirant to learn more about our CompetitivEdge strategy and help you start better listening to your customers.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson

Judy partners with executives and leadership teams to engage and inspire employees in a way that delivers sustainable strategic results. She brings deep expertise and creative ideas to solve organizational effectiveness issues and closely collaborates in a way that builds internal capabilities. Judy has spent over 25 years consulting in a variety of industries, bringing her expertise in behavior to a wide range of organizational issues including organizational behavior change, leadership, change management, culture and engagement.