The importance of meeting customer needs is crucial for company’s growth. Understanding user needs is a topic strongly related to development, sales, and marketing performance. It’s also one of the reasons why product manager role has become a crucial component in product teams around the globe. Taking advantage of understanding human behavior offers a possibility to put yourself ahead of a competition on the market.
Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves. ~ Steve Jobs
There are different approaches to finding the answer about users needs, but some of them are common in many areas.
1. Put yourself in customers shoes
Or even better – be one of them. You’ve probably worked with people before. Right? You can imagine how they feel and how they react to different information. You can picture yourself dealing with their problems in their situation. Once you can breathe like they do, ask yourself if the product you offer (or planning to), can truly help with solving their problems. If yes, you might be on a right path.
2. Collect and analyze currently available data
Having your own data available for analyzing can be a goldmine. Of course, it depends on what kind of data you collect and if you’ve set the KPI’s in a way so those can help you. Data comes from different sources. Most of us are probably well aware of Google analytics. An amazing and powerful tool, when we talk about website user engagement. Next to it stands our valuable CRM which must be fed with quality data. “Garbage in, garbage out” is not just a saying – it’s true.
To get some subjective data, you always have the option to get a response from users directly – with a survey. There are many free tools that allow you to make a survey, such as Google forms or SurveyMonkey. If that is too complex for a quick answer you want to get, then just ask a poll question on Facebook or Twitter if your social channels are “in a good shape”.
And don’t forget about email marketing. MailChimp is definitely one of the great tools that won’t disappoint you with user engagement data from your email campaigns.
Not having all the data we talk about? Do You need more? Do a research. Use Google, find articles, data sheets, and search through academic article databases. Latest academic research papers can help you a lot if the findings are based on data from a reliable research sample.
3. Talk to sales reps and customer support
There is no better inside source of information what users need most. Good customer support can feed you with those treats daily. So can sales reps. When I say that I assume that they know how to do their job. And by that I mean they know how to listen to a customer and most important – transform gained info into valuable suggestions which could help to make your products even better.
4. Talk to customers directly
Once you know how to speak their language everything is easy. Existing or potential customer – they both have similar issues. And both are willing to express their worries, if you can promise them you’ll make your best, to try to find them a cure.
The main thing to say here is – ask them what you want to hear and listen. Try to be a good listener. All they want to hear is how you are going to help then and when. So try not to talk much unless you have those two answers in your right pocket.
5. Explore and test
A while ago I read an interesting growth study article about how Growthhackers.com gained more than 60K MAU (monthly active users) which grew from 90K to 152K (the number is now probably even higher) in about eleven weeks without spending a dollar on advertising or increasing the size of their growth team. How? With experimenting and testing ideas that drive results so-called “high tempo testing”. Their strategy sounds easy but as they assure – it’s not. As they explain through the study, the process is mapped in 4 steps listed below:
- Collecting ideas
- Prioritizing ideas
- Managing tempo
- Capturing learning
This method isn’t only focusing on the customer needs but on the most aggressive targets as well.