8 great ways to understand what your customers really want

Library | 10/29/2020
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It sounds obvious: the best way to know what your customers really want is simply to ask them, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, people have proven time and time again that they aren’t great at self-assessment, and rarely know what they actually want.


Henry Ford famously once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”


The point is, people know what their challenges and pain points are, but they may have no idea how to solve them. The perfect solution may not have even been invented yet!


Design thinking is an approach that focuses on first understanding the customers’ needs and then works backwards to create a solution that fits those needs. This is opposed to more traditional development in which a service or product is created based on the company’s capabilities, which the company then markets and sells to customers.


Below are 8 great ways to get to know your customers better, so you can create experiences, products and services that best meet their needs.


1.  Survey the right way

Surveys can still be a valuable tool to learn about your customers, but there’s a science behind gaining accurate and helpful results. Base questions on actual behavior as opposed to hypothetical future behavior, and ask about what they don’t like about something to help identify pain points and areas of friction. Use branching surveys to make the process quicker and easier for users.


2.  Create deeper buyer personas

Buyer personas help build a picture of your customers, but they must go beyond simple demographics. You may know that your average customer is a 45-year-old woman but what motivates her? What is she afraid of? What does her buying experience look like? Find ways to integrate empathy into your persona building – mapping out what customers said, did, thought and felt – for a much more useful view of your customers.


3.  Map the customer journey

To truly put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you need to map out the entire customer journey across channels to see how they interact with your brand during every step of the buying process. By understanding how they feel – what motivates them to click Next or abandon their cart – you’ll be able to refine your processes to be more seamless and user friendly. (See How to Use Customer Journey Maps to Improve Experience)


4.  Gain insights from behavioral data

You likely are already collecting a wealth of behavioral data through a tool like Google Analytics, but all that data is useless if you aren’t using it. Regularly analyze that precious data and take the insights you gain from it to make better business decisions.


5.  Cultivate conversation

Clickbait headlines do nothing to foster engagement or trust with your brand. Instead, build your content and resources around your customers’ needs, and cultivate conversations over clicks.


6.  Practice active social listening

Actively listen and respond to comments, questions or mentions of your business across all social media platforms to gain further insights as to what your customers are thinking or feeling about your company.


7.  Talk to employees on the front lines

Leverage the knowledge your sales reps or customer service people have gained by talking to your customers day in and day out.


8.  Test everything

As you fine tune your messaging, processes, and products to better meet the needs of your customers, be sure to test every iteration so you know what is working and what isn’t.


Steve Jobs once said, “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.” But, for your business to succeed, it’s your job to figure it out.


At Valley, our customers are the center of all that we do, and we strive to create programs and financial products and services that make their lives easier and their businesses more successful. Check out our loan assistance and payment relief programs, learn about available SBA loans, or visit our Business Insight Center for more helpful advice.


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