15 Customer Needs You Should Know About + Tips To Solve Them

Customer needs and expectations are ever changing. Identifying, analyzing, and meeting customer needs is the key to providing better customer service and growing your business. 

In this blog, we cover the A-Z of customer needs to help you create a product or service that is in line with everything that your customers need. 

Table of contents (click on a link to directly read the section of your interest)

 

What are customer needs?

Simply put, a customer need is a driving factor that pushes consumers to look for and purchase a product or service. These needs might solve a challenge they are facing, they might pertain to a service they require in order to accomplish a task, they might be solutions that make their lives easier or more comfortable – broadly, it is anything that pushes them towards a purchase decision. Unsurprisingly, most businesses are created to offer solutions for customer needs. 

For instance, there’s a section of customers who do not have the time to go out and pick up groceries. To cater to the needs of these customers, online, on-demand grocery stores such as Walmart Grocery and Grofers were launched. 

Customers can now get their daily, weekly, and monthly supplies delivered right from home. The fact that customers were looking for a more convenient solution can be easily derived here. 

But is convenience the only reason why customer needs arise? Not really. 

In addition to convenience, there are two other factors that drive customer needs. Let’s explore the three factors in detail.

Where do customer needs stem from?

Analyzing customer needs gives you the reason why customers purchase your product or service. 

In a business context, customer needs stem from the desire to:

– Increase convenience: 97% of consumers say they have backed out of making a purchase because of inconvenience.1 In the previous example, by shopping for groceries online customers are optimizing for convenience. In fact, the more convenience a solution offers, the more likely are customers to purchase.

– Improve efficiency: Customers are constantly looking for better ways of doing something. For instance, creating to-do lists is a good way to be efficient. However, most people don’t stop with to-do lists alone. They also set up reminders that help them complete their task on time, and thereby further improve their efficiency. It’s this need that was served with the launch of apps such as Evernote.

– Reduce costs: In addition to increasing convenience and efficiency, customers need solutions that help them reduce costs. For instance, lean customer service teams turn to self-service and chatbots to cut down spending on other resources, such as a bigger workforce, on-premise teams, and round-the-clock staffing.

Most businesses only take stock of customer needs at the time of the inception of the business. However, that might not be the wisest thing to do. Here’s why.

Why are customer needs important?

As a business, understanding the reason why your customers purchase from you, and staying on top of changing customer expectations helps you stay purpose-driven. This helps you:
Create clear business goals and KPIs for employees
– Improve your product and service
– Keep your customers happy and increase customer loyalty
– Grow your business

Now that we’ve covered all the basics, let’s take a look at the different types of customer needs.

Infographic containing customer needs examples

Product 

#1 Intuitive design

When it comes to technology, usability is an extremely important customer need. 

A well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to 200%, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%.2 This goes to show that customers want products that offer seamless user experiences. 

In addition to good UI and UX, products also need to have good accessibility to cater to the needs of the specially-abled customers.

#2 User-centered

Customers want products that are centered around their solving for their needs. To put this in perspective, the functionalities of your product should address and adapt to the user’s environment, tasks, goals, and in time, incorporate customer feedback into the product to make sure you’re delivering the most useful, impactful product.

Evernote, a note-taking app, increased user retention by 15% after launching intuitive, helpful features.3 This increase was the result of changes that were incorporated after listening to users narrate their experiences and monitoring how users interacted with the product.

#3 Affordable

Cost tends to be a key factor while making a purchase. You need to come up with a pricing plan that is cognizant of this customer need in order to keep your business successful. 

For instance, the NBA legend Shaq created an affordable line of shoes that are sold at Walmart after he encountered a customer (a mother) who told him that nobody makes affordable shoes. 

Screenshot of a tweet appreciating Shaq for catering to customer needs

Especially with the advent of the pandemic, affordability has become all the more important. Globally, 54% of consumers say price is a more important purchasing criterion than it was just a month ago.4

#4 Reliable

No matter how elegant the product looks, customers would still abandon the product if it fails to perform well. 

While minor bugs are inevitable, the product should not crash often and hinder customers. 

Almost anything in software can be implemented, sold, and even used given enough determination. There is nothing a mere scientist can say that will stand against the flood of a hundred million dollars. But there is one quality that cannot be purchased in this way — and that is reliability. – C.A.R. Hoare in The Emperor’s Old Clothes 

#5 Compatible

When it comes to purchasing software, customers are increasingly basing their purchase decisions on how much effort is required in adding your solution to their existing tech stack. That’s why your product needs to be compatible with the other tools that they are using. This basic yet critical necessity enables customers to plan their workflows around their existing tech stack.

Here’s an example of Campaigntrack, a customer of Freshworks who was looking to seamlessly integrate Freshdesk with their existing platforms.

Screenshot-of-Campaigntrack-unifying-their-tech-ecosystem

Customer Service

#6 Omnichannel

9 out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication methods.5 

Omnichannel customer service allows you to keep track of customer conversations across all channels from a single view and provide a uniform customer experience

Omnichannel support removes the need for customers to repeat their issues and 57% of baby boomers and 45% of millennials get irritated at having to repeat themselves.6 This forces brands to offer an omnichannel service experience.

#7 Transparency

Customers need brands to be transparent and share information upfront. So, it’s important to make it easy for customers to access the right information throughout the customer journey. This will help them make the right buying decision and also build trust in your brand.  

#8 Speed

When customers run into an issue with your product or service, the sooner they get a solution, the faster they can get back to their routine lives.

According to recent research, 42% of customers consider 1-3 minutes to be the acceptable wait time to speak to a customer service representative. Only 31% of customers are willing to wait no longer than 5 minutes to speak to someone.7 

So, as a business, you need to offer fast and effective solutions.

#9 24/7 support

51% of customers today want businesses to be available 24/7.8 If your business is spread across different geographies, then it’s absolutely necessary that you provide 24/7 support.

Additionally, if your business is a part of the travel, healthcare, or finance industry, then it’s imperative for you to support your customers around the clock. Customers in these industries often tend to have critical and time-sensitive issues that need to be tended to immediately

#10 Personalization

Customers today want experiences that are tailored to them. In fact, 63% of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service.9 

Customers need to see tailored responses and solutions that address even the minor details of the issue reported. This helps them believe that the conversation was unique and personal.

Emotional

#11 Validation

Costumes feel the need to be validated while using your product. For instance, while using a customer service software, agents look at response and resolution times or leaderboards for reassurance, while managers might look at reports and analytics.

#12 Control

Customers like to be in control of things and your product or service should empower them to feel that way. 

For instance, if you offer a B2B product, you need to enable your customers to easily customize your product, upgrade or downgrade plans, and generate thorough reports on their own. 

If you offer a B2C product, then you need to give your customers multiple payment options and allow them to track and monitor delivery. 

#13 Empathy

When your customers come to you with a problem, they want to feel heard and understood. 

Memorable customer service can only take place in a human-to-human situation. – Jeffrey Gitomer  

Customers look for that human element when they interact with brands. They don’t want to be met with to-the-point or curt responses.

#14 Trust

For customers to be able to trust you, they need to be treated like a friend, and not as a transaction. 

For instance, at Freshworks, we treat each of our customers as friends and build relationships that are based on trust, and transparency.

Screenshot of testimonial from Brewdog a customer of Freshdesk

#15 Fairness

All customers expect to be treated equally. While you can offer perks for loyal customers, when it comes to customer service, all requests should be treated with the same importance and urgency.

In the words of Shep Hyken,

“All customers should all be treated with dignity, respect, and the attention any human deserves. They should all be treated in a way that is consistent with your brand promise and the reputation you wish to be known for.”

The 15 types of customer needs that have been listed here can be seen across all businesses. Let’s take a look at how you can identify customer needs that are unique to your business.

How to identify customer needs?

Conducting market research (a thorough study of your target markets and customers) helps you gather information about your customers and narrow down on their needs. 

In this section, we’ll discuss different ways in which you can conduct market research. 

Regardless of which method you choose, by the end of your research, you need to find answers to the following questions:

What is the definition of your ideal customer? [average age, qualification, characteristics]

What do they do? [what is their job and how is their environment]

What were they trying to achieve by purchasing your product? [the reason why they bought your product]

Is your solution meeting this goal? [reality check]

Are they facing any pain-points? If yes, what are they? [your weakness]

Do they have any product or feature requests? 

Is it their first time buying a solution in your space? 

If yes, which solution did they use before this? 

Why did they decide to look for another solution? [your strong points]

Are they happy with your customer service? 

5 easy methods to identify customer service

#1 Survey your customers

A survey is a collection of open or close-ended questions that help you gather information about your customers. Apart from being inexpensive, the best part about surveys is that you can customize them with a mix of drop-down, checkbox, point-scale, and open-ended questions to collect the right information without overwhelming customers. 

Surveys give your customers the flexibility to answer the questions at their own convenience.

#2 Conduct interviews

Conducting face-to-face interviews with your customers is the best way to get a thorough understanding of their needs. One-one interviews allow the conversation to take its natural course — customers are often in their element and are candid about their experiences.

Plus you can also pick out the non-verbal cues and identify points of hesitation or annoyance. 

Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers. – Ross Perot 

#3 Observe how your customers interact with your product

There are a lot of learnings that you can takeaway by observing your customers interact with your product or service.

Sometimes, you might even notice that a customer is using a feature the way it was never intended to be used — that’s not wrong, you’ll learn something new or perhaps know a better way to do that on your product. 

Informing your customers beforehand that you will be observing them is a good thing to do. However, the caveat here is that some customers might behave differently when they’re being observed. 

#4 Practice social media listening 

Practicing active social media listening will give you a treasure trove of information about your customers, and industry trends too.

Browsing through your competitor’s social media profiles will also tell you what their customers are happy or unhappy about. 

#5 Browse through past support tickets 

Your customers communicate most frequently with your support agents, and support tickets are the voice of the customers. Your support tickets are a testament to everything that is wrong with your product or the experience that you’re creating for your users. 

As a customer support agent, you need to share the common themes or specific issues that are reported frequently with the rest of your organization. 

Screenshot of an omnichannel inbox by Freshdesk

Alternatively, you can also turn to established frameworks such as the jobs-to-be-done framework to identify your customers’ needs. This framework helps you identify customer needs and categorize them according to importance.

How to use the jobs-to-be-done framework for customer needs analysis

Here’s are two simple steps in which you can use this framework:

Step 1: Identify and segment your customers
For every job to be done, you should be able to map the following three personas who will enjoy the benefits of purchasing your product or service — the job beneficiary, the executor, and the purchase decision-maker. 

Let’s take an example of a business that’s looking to buy customer service software. In this case,
– customers are the beneficiaries since they receive quick and seamless support,
– customer service agents are the executors who use the tool to offer support,
– admins, managers, as well as the CEO could be involved in making the purchase decision.

Step 2: Note down the jobs that are to be done
In this step, you’ll try to figure out what your target audience is looking to achieve by using your product or service. The jobs that depend on executor can be categorized into:

Functional jobs: This is a list of all the fundamental jobs that need to be done

Emotional jobs: Here you’ll understand how your customers want to feel while getting their jobs done

Consumption jobs: This refers to all jobs that involve installation, onboarding, and implementation

With this framework, you’ll understand where you can create value and you need to spend time on figuring out how your business can plug the gap. 

In the next section, we’ve discussed three key starting points that you can use to meet your customers’ needs.

How to meet customer needs?

Once you’ve analyzed your customer needs, you need to take the appropriate steps to solve them. Although your customer’s needs will be unique to your business, here are three key tips to increase customer happiness on the whole:

#1 Develop a user-driven product

One way to get your customers’ needs solved is to keep them at the center of your design and development process. Here are a few tips that can help you create a user-driven product:
– Design for usability (don’t let aesthetics blind you)
– Offer an intuitive or self-service onboarding module
– Have a convenient pricing model
– Get feedback from customers on a continuous basis
– Incorporate valid feedback in your next cycle of product development
– Make it easy for customers to troubleshoot and report issues or bugs
– Educate your users by adding help guides/videos, or embedding FAQs or a chatbot 

Screenshot of help content within Freshdesk

#2 Offer better customer service 

A good product alone is not enough to meet your customer’s needs. Customers are bound to run into bugs and other inconveniences with your product. Complementing your product with the best customer service possible is necessary to improve customer satisfaction.

We’ve written about how to offer great customer service in detail. Here’s an overview of the three critical aspects of customer service that you need to work on:

2.1. Offer omnichannel customer service
Today, there are more channels of communication available than ever. 

If you offer support on more than a channel of communication, you need to ensure that you provide a seamless experience for the customer. You need to be consistent with the way you communicate. This includes making sure that customers aren’t pushed around to multiple agents and don’t have to repeat themselves. 

With an omnichannel customer service software like Freshdesk, you’ll have the right context you need — easy access to customer records, and a unified view of previous interactions across all channels — to offer exemplary customer service. 

Screenshot of omnichannel timeline by Freshdesk

 

2.2. Launch a robust self-service module
Creating a self-service module is a low-effort high-return investment. This goes a long way in showing that you care about your customers’ needs and are trying to be transparent and proactive by sharing important information with them.

Here are the different self-service options you can deploy:

–  Knowledge base
A knowledge base or a self-service portal is a single place for customers to find information about your company. With a knowledge base, customers can find answers to questions on their own, and also find other information that they may have been looking for. 

Help widget
Embedding your knowledge base in a help widget or web widget makes it easy for customers to navigate through FAQs and find answers. 

Additionally, you can also embed a contact form within the help widget that customers can use to report any issue that they’ve run into. 

However, the cherry on top is the ability to offer proactive customer service with a help widget. Using a help widget, you can trigger a popup when customers are showing visible signs of frustration, and thus capture customer needs and pain points in a timely manner. 

Chatbot
A customer service chatbot or a virtual agent keeps up with today’s customer’s need for speed and information. Chatbots can interact with your customers and fetch answers from your knowledge base. 

Advanced chatbots such as a Freddy-AI-powered chatbot can also automate resolutions to frequently reported issues and offer solutions in a jiffy.

Screenshot of a chatbot conversation

Community forum
Also popularly known as discussion boards, community forums allow customers to gather and interact with one another. Customers often share issues and help each other out. 

When used properly, a community forum can be very beneficial to you – this is a place where you can identify customer needs and also solve them.

2.3 Improve agent productivity
Until now, we’ve only discussed how you can improve the customer experience you deliver. 

However, you also need to empower your agents internally with the right tools to enable them to provide good customer service. 

Only when you do that will your agents also be better equipped to take on more customer issues. Here’s how an AI-powered helpdesk can help empower your customer support team – 

  • Automate lengthy or complicated backend support processes.
  • Insert canned responses and solution articles into responses.
  • Launch an Assist Bot that helps agents by suggesting the best responses, resources, or course of action.

#3 Create a customer-focused culture

In a customer-centric or a customer-focused culture, every employee in your organization understands and prioritizes your customer’s needs first. So this mindset encourages each employee to do what’s best for the customer.

Customer-facing teams are the ones that benefit the most from thriving in a culture that puts the customer first. This empowers sales and support teams to engage in meaningful conversations and create memorable experiences that keep customers glued to your brand.

We’ve written in detail about how you can build a dynamic customer-focused culture already, but here’s a quick gist:
– Pay attention to your customers everywhere — phone calls, live chat, email, in-app, or SMS. messaging, Facebook messenger, and even the community message boards on your website.
– Be available on the channels that are popular amongst your customers.
– Offer proactive customer support.
– Create options for employee growth and learning.
– Enable better inter-team collaboration.

All of the efforts you put into meeting your customer needs will be meaningless if you don’t keep track of the impact you’re making. If you see an improvement in these three key metrics, then you are doing a good job:

– NPS (the higher, the better)
– CES (the lower, the better)
– CSAT (the higher, the better)


Parting words: Be proactive when it comes to customer needs

Once you’ve got the foundation of your business set, you need to start anticipating customer needs and look for creative ways to solve them in advance. 

A customer service software like Freshdesk, you can meet and exceed customer needs and delight your customers by:
– offering omnichannel service
– collaborating with context
– collecting customer feedback with customized forms
– categorizing feedback and keeping relevant teams in the loop
– improving agent productivity
– increasing customer happiness.

Try Freshdesk for free today, and take your business to new heights. 

Sources:
1 – https://www.smartinsights.com/ecommerce/convenience-is-driving-e-commerce-growth-and-influencing-consumer-decisions/
2 – https://uxplanet.org/the-value-of-ux-design-bc22bcd482a4
3 – https://truelist.co/blog/ux-statistics/
4 – https://www.ey.com/en_in/consumer-products-retail/future-consumer-index–how-to-thrive-in-the-age-of-affordability
5 – https://www.cxtoday.com/contact-centre/delivering-an-excellent-omni-channel-experience/
6 – https://www.jitbit.com/news/expectations-customer-service-2020/
7 – https://www.freshworks.com/resources/report/the-new-rules-of-customer-engagement/
8 – https://techjury.net/blog/live-chat-statistics/#gref
9 – https://www.business2community.com/marketing/30-amazing-personalization-statistics-02289044

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