The art of anticipating and meeting your customer needs
Customers are the beating heart of a successful business. But to connect with them, your messaging needs to be just right.
Successful messaging will move your audience along your funnel and push them over that final line purchase, sign up or become a user. No matter your conversion goal, your messaging needs to be spot on.
However, messaging can be understandably frustrating to get right. The secret is to identify and solve specific customer needs at the right time and stage in the customer journey.
Customer needs are the specific motives that prompt a customer to purchase your product or solution.
Note the word ‘specific’ there. Customer needs are more in-depth than usual customer problem statements that you are already familiar with. Instead of focusing on a core problem, customer needs cover individual barriers towards purchasing.
For example, a customer problem statement can look like this:
These statements are great for summarizing core reasons why someone will initially be interested in your product or service. But they don’t offer anything else to move a customer from that first awareness contact stage to purchasing.
Customer needs expand on this, covering elements like price, reliability, and control. Similar to the jobs-to-be-done framework, focusing on this specific need, or ‘job’, and how to solve it will provide a customer-focused framework to start building your messaging from.
There are two categories of customer needs: product needs and service needs.
The specific customer need depends on your business, product, and service. Any possible barrier that could prevent a customer from converting is a customer need.
However, these are the most common types of customer needs that you might come across.
Price is a universally typical customer need that most businesses will face. Customers will have their unique budgets to what they can afford and preconceptions as to how much they believe your product or service should cost.
To solve this customer need, you need to assure them it’s within their budget, or remind them of the value that they’re getting for the price to break their preconceptions.
A core customer need is functionality. This is where your customer needs to know that your product or service will function the way they need it to solve their core problem.
Going back to that example custom problem statement from earlier, a functionality concern will be that they need a charger that can work on all of their devices.
How easy is your product or service to use? Do you offer a product that can charge all devices, no matter which outlet they use? Is it lightweight and easy to carry around? Does it take up a lot of space?
Customers want solutions that make life easier, not harder.
Can a customer rely on your product or service to work exactly as advertised every time they use it?
Elements like lifetime warranties, battery life, and replacement schemes are great for solving this customer need.
This customer need is all about integrating your product or service with the rest of their life. Compatibility can apply to the physical nature of products, for instance, making sure that a storage box fits inside furniture they own. Compatibility can also apply to how a customer uses the product. For example, this could mean that planning software will sync up to the calendar and email system they already use.
The control customer need empowers customers to feel like they’re in control of the entire business interaction. No matter what stage of the funnel they’re at, everything must feel like their choice and decision.
This is especially important for ongoing subscriptions or platforms. Customers need to have control over the account, with the power to change or pause subscriptions without being tied into lengthy contracts.
Customers want the business they buy from to be honest and upfront. If there are pricing changes, service outages, package delays – they want to know about it. If they’re entering into a contract or subscription-based service, they need to know that no hidden charges or surprises are waiting for them at the other end.
Another customer need that ties together nicely with transparency is communication.
The accessibility need can work in two ways. Firstly, customers need to know that they can access your service and support teams whenever they need to. This is all about making sure your business is easy to access.
Secondly, they need to know that your company caters to their specific access needs. This could include alternative customer service options, such as braille letters, or later phone operating times.
If a customer needs to get in touch with your team, they want empathy and understanding from your side. They want to feel like a valued customer that matters to your business, not just another sale or victim that they could scam.
The options customer need is about giving customers a choice. This could be from various products, payment options, subscription models, or more. In fact, one study showed that 56% of consumers want to see a variety of payment options at the checkout.
Having a choice is important to customers to help them feel in control of their actions (also a customer need!) and customize purchases in a way that suits them.
Now that we’ve gone over some common customer needs, let’s share our 4 step process to find your specific customer needs in your target market.
As a starting point, you should always look at the data and customer feedback you already have and collect.
If you use Google Analytics, you can start searching for pages with a high bounce or exit rates to see which pages on your website customers aren’t connecting with. You can also look at the behavior flows tool that Google Analytics also offers, exploring the journey that customers take through your website.
This will give you an idea of the information, and thus needs that customers are trying to solve, and what barriers could be causing them to bounce.
For example, let’s say you notice that a high volume of customers are dropping out during the delivery stage of checkout. We’ve identified a pattern, so now we can develop a hypothesis as to why this is happening.
One explanation could be that delivery prices aren’t mentioned anywhere before this stage, and potentially high costs could work against their pricing need. This is a common problem on many checkouts, as 69% of online shoppers say that excessively high shipping costs are the biggest reason for cart abandonment.
The review stage isn’t just for your website. You should use it to look at your messaging across all platforms. If you use email marketing, look at your open rates, best and worst performers, and what messages get the most clicks.
To anticipate and meet customer needs, you need to have an accurate map of the entire customer journey. This will help you identify customer needs not only by where they might be leaving your funnel but also by the different paths and content they are interacting with.
For example, if they click on an ad about how easy your product is to use then navigate to a demo video, you can identify usability as a critical customer need. If they are dropping off after this point, you know your messaging needs to solve this need for them at this particular stage.
When mapping out the customer journey, remember that not everyone takes the same route to your product. Funnel models always show sales paths as a linear model, in which a customer moves from awareness in a straight line towards purchase.
In reality, customers can move in and out of stages and interact with numerous pieces of content before finally hitting that conversions stage. Being able to paint this picture will highlight which customer needs are directing these movements and give you the ammunition to make sure your messaging solves each need at the right moment.
Customer journey mapping will also help improve the customer experience. As 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, this process promises to have a big payoff.
Getting customer feedback is the most important way of identifying customer needs. Although getting data is essential, you’re only ever working on hypotheses unless you speak to your customers.
The best way to do this is through buyer intelligence surveys.
These surveys allow you to ask your target market key questions about their needs, your brand, and what barriers they are currently facing. You get all of the information you need to make a difference in your messaging.
Unlike traditional surveys that can take months to complete, Wynter’s buyer intelligence surveys are ready in 1-2 days. You tell us who your target audience is, select the questions you want to ask, and we’ll obtain the valuable 1:1 interviews you need from our exclusive b2b buyer audience.
As well as getting feedback from your customers and target market, it’s also a good idea to step away from the channels you control and utilize social listening tools.
Social listening tools, such as the ones offered by Hootsuite, allow you to monitor online conversions about specific brands, products, or industries. You can follow specific hashtags or search posts by keyword to see current trends and customer sentiment. Then, you can use these to inform your customer feedback process or create content ideas that you can utilize as a brand.
Social listening is also good for responding and getting on top of any negative customer feedback before it harms your brand. For example, here you can see that internet provider Spectrum has used a social listening tool to watch for their brand name. Seeing a negative tweet about an outage, they responded quickly to control the situation.
A means-end approach is a type of marketing framework that outlines that customers buy based on features that satisfy their needs. In this context, this framework means they buy products based on the features that meet their customer needs.
Now you’ve identified the customer needs of your target audience, you need to map these needs against your product, features, and offers. You move from the identification phase to the anticipation one by doing this. The way to complete this is through a customer needs analysis.
A customer needs analysis examines the customer needs you have identified for your target audience related to the benefits, attributes, and features of your product and service.
For example, suppose you have identified the customer need for convenience. In that case, you might be able to map this need against features and benefits such as being small and easy to carry or having a load time of 2 seconds.
By clearly mapping the links between customer needs and your product, you can start to anticipate the content and messaging you’ll need to create to solve their needs and increase your conversions.
To create a customer needs analysis, you need to start with your customer profile. Unlike a simple persona, this needs to include the specific customer needs that they are facing and their perception of your products and brands. So, as well as using the above steps to identify customer needs, you will need to collect more customer feedback to understand how they feel about your brand, product, and service.
And, like before, the best way to get customer feedback is through buyer intelligence surveys. This time, you need to focus your questions on information such as:
Using Wynter, you’ll have these answers back within 1-2 days, ready to start mapping against your product and services.
So far, we’ve identified, and anticipated customer needs. Now, it’s time to meet them with these four steps.
Using your customer needs analysis as a starting point, you already should have a list of customer needs and the features and benefits that will be able to solve them. For each of these needs, you need to think about the content your audience would be able to interact with to solve this need – and ultimately provide value.
Let’s say that your product is a smartwatch, and you have identified a customer need for reliability. On your customer needs analysis, you’ve mapped this customer need to features such as long battery life, built-in GPS connection, and the waterproof nature. Using these, you will be able to come up with content about how long your battery can last, how you can never be lost with the GPS, and how the watch can survive swimming and downpours alike.
You know your customer needs. You know where you can add value, and you know the content you need to provide. All that’s left is the messaging. The key to getting this right is to keep always core customer needs at the forefront. Connect with them on their problem, then provide value by giving them the solution.
Take massaging platform Slack for example. They have identified compatibility as a key customer need for their audience, and thus one of the core pages on their website is focused entirely on integrations.
The messaging on this page is direct, demonstrating that Slack isn’t just comparable with exciting software and systems that their audience will use, but makes them more convenient and functional. Using bold statements such as “get more value”, “Slack makes all your tools work better”, this page does a great job at satisfying the compatibility customer need while still nodding their head at needs such as functionality and efficiency.
Visually, the page also includes logos from common integrations and features a section demonstrating over 2,400 apps in their library. Each logo chosen here isn’t random. Instead, they come from great customer research and feedback over the most common software their customers need.
Customer service plays a crucial role in meeting customer needs; particularly service customer needs like empathy, accessibility, and transparency. But as 75% of customers are willing to buy more from customers with excellent customer service, we’d recommend this as a core practice for your company regardless.
Meeting your customer needs through excellent service boils down to providing fast, transparent, and effective customer service that shows it cares about the customers.
HubSpot is a great example of customer service. As well as offering usual channels such as email, live chat and phone messaging, they’ve developed and built out community areas for users to connect and help each other out.
This may sound like they’re passing the customer support baton on, but it actually has the opposite effect. That’s because the queries dealt within the community aren’t just related to Hubspot, but expand to general marketing and day-to-day operations beyond the platform, adding value and a personal touch outside of the product offerings. By creating this space, they’ve proven that the team don’t just care if you use the platform. Instead, they are actively trying to help your business succeed, thus satisfying the empathy customer need.
Talking to customers is not something you do once at the start and then abandon. Once you’ve created messaging, you need to continue interacting with your customers to see if the messaging is working, what gaps remain, and what more your brand can do to address customer needs.
As well as buyer intelligence surveys, you can also set up message testing with Wynter. This lets you get direct feedback from your target audience over your messaging and see what performs better within 1 to 2 days. Instead of waiting weeks to split test and make assumptions over the data, you’ll get valuable insights into what works before going live.
Customer needs are the specific motives that prompt your customer to buy. They cover a range of areas inside two separate categories: product customer need and service customer need.
To identify customer needs, you need to:
For anticipating these customer needs, create a customer needs analysis that maps the customer needs of your target audience against your features, benefits and services. This analysis will then be used to meet your customer needs, by identifying content gaps between these needs and your services.
Meeting your customers needs also requires you to build your messaging around these needs, overcoming this particular obstacle in order to move them through your sales funnel. In addition, you will also require great customer service to solve service-based customer needs – and get feedback from your audience on the improvements that you’re making.
One common element amongst identifying, anticipating and meeting your customer needs is to collect feedback from your target audience. Wynter has the tools you need to gather accurate data and test your messaging in just 1-2 days, no matter which stage of the journey you're at.
Out now: Watch our free B2B messaging course and learn all the techniques (from basic to advanced) to create messaging that resonates with your target customers.