In our recent article “Ultimate conversion rate optimization best practices”, we acknowledge the need for customer research and a deeper understanding of their needs. Customer needs, after all, are proven to be the foundation of any winning businesses.
Growing businesses spend up to 70% of their time doing research on customers to clarify their needs, wants, and pain points. They actively spend resources on new ways of listening to customers as a requirement. And to clarify their intent.
Now, our most important question is: How can you truly understand customer needs in the right way?
There is no set definition for understanding customers. Only insights gathered by many different means. But one thing is certain, the importance of listening, understanding and then implementing is paramount.
Use this is part of your customer service module, increase conversion rates and bring more value to the marketplace.
01. Different Types of Customer Needs
1.1. Define customer needs with buyer personas
Everyone has an ideal target customer when starting out. If not, you’ll need to sit down and seriously consider who that might be, and why they should buy from you.
The best way to do this is by creating buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a detailed description of the consumer you wish to buy your product, right down to the most minute details. When it comes to understanding your customers with utmost clarity, you need to be as specific as possible.
Consider it the difference between spraying bullets with a shotgun and pinpointing with a sniper rifle.
When you’re diligent and precise with your buyer personas, you can shape every aspect of your business to appeal to those individuals, and resonate with them on a personal level.
Here’s an example I drafted of a buyer persona. Feel free to use a similar template for yours.
Everything from the name, family status, spending habits and more should be included.
How would you go about tailoring your content and unique offer for someone like Daisy? Would you offer high-ticket items or target her during sales and promotional periods?
Hopefully you know the answer. Some ideas to increase the chances of getting a conversion from Discount Daisy include:
- Tailor your unique offer, products and communications with her spending habits in mind
- Tailor your headlines to entice with urgency and/or clear financial benefits “Now You Can Get $700 worth of _____, At The Incredibly Low Price Of ________”
- Provide offers specific to Daisy e.g sell off unwanted stock at a discount while still turning a profit
- Offer a quick and painless checkout process. Daisy doesn’t need or want a customer account to checkout.
With creating buyer personas comes clarity. And clarity around your customers needs and expectations is key to communicating your offer with them effectively.
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1.2. Identify customer pain points, needs, and expectations
After that, comes pain points research. Customer pain points are as varied as your prospective customers themselves. However, the busiest trace will leave footprints behind, so look for them.
Pain points are often grouped into several broader categories, including:
- Financial Pain Points
Your prospects are spending too much money on their current provider/solution/products and want to reduce their expenses.
- Productivity Pain Points
Your prospects are wasting too much time using their current provider/solution/products or want to use their time more efficiently.
- Process Pain Points
Your prospects want to improve internal processes, such as assigning leads to sales reps or nurturing lower-priority leads.
- Support Pain Points
Your prospects aren’t receiving the support they need at critical stages of the customer journey or sales process.
Viewing customer pain points in these categories allows you to start thinking about how to position your product/service as a solution to your prospects’ problems.
Surf through community forums, Facebook groups, Quora / Reddit, etc. You can just observe or proactively raise questions to fire up and let people splash out their problems. Another great place to detect customer’s expectations is through their reviews and feedback to products in the same industry.
In many cases, not all prospects are aware of the pain points they are experiencing. Even when they do, it’s likely that they won’t be able to communicate clearly what they truly need, because people only say what they want.
A famous story about Henry Ford is when people interviewed him about how he could come up with the now-famous automobile line, he said: “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would say they want a faster horse”.
So it’s your job to utilize your talent and give a solution to your customer’s problem that would exceed their expectations.
From this, you can accurately pinpoint why customers leave your site and how to reduce it.
1.3. Understanding customer behaviors
Now that you have some basic understanding of your customers and their pain, it’s time to look at how they are currently looking for the solution. What does their behavior pattern look like?
You may have heard of “customer journey mapping” – a famous term in recent years – and it’s great if you build one, even a very simple model.
Basically, it’s a detailed, graphical representation of the customer journey based on critical touch points between the customer and a brand before, during and after purchase. This method helps you visualize the time, effort and experience that your customer must cope with.
From this model, you will have a better idea about the appropriate channels and methods to best serve the customer.
It’s important to attach user goals to the different stages of the customer journey. (Source: uxpressia.com)
1.4. Customer needs and wants – the importance of understanding the difference
When it comes to eCommerce, we often hear endless information about understanding customer needs.
But what about customer wants?
After all, they are two radically different things, and should be considered when optimizing your online store.
For example, people need light bulbs, and as a result are more likely to buy the cheapest one that lasts the longest. So if you’re selling light bulbs, price point is a huge factor to consider.
Now consider Mark, a retired investment banker that loves to play golf 5 days a week. He doesn’t need to play gold, but rather its a hobby that he wants to spend his time on.
Now, price point isn’t an issue if Mark needs a new set of snazzy golf clubs. He’ll pay anything as long as it makes him happy (which playing golf does). So if you’re selling based on want or desire, you’re creating an offer and content to that isn’t based on price, but based on emotion.
Any experienced salesperson will tell you that consumers tend to spend a lot more on products they want.
Understanding the difference between wants and needs can help you create the most effective marketing strategy for conversions.
1.5 Quantify the customer research
Make hypotheses on critical questions based on the little data you gather from each of the previous step.
- What were the top 3 problems of customers?
This one will let you know the main pain point that your product must solve.
- How did customers find a solution to their problem?
This helps you to understand spots where you can approach and convert customers.
- What questions did customers have before purchasing?
This will help you uncover any possible drawbacks they may have encountered, and how you can better address them.
- What aspect of the product attracted customers the most?
This will help you to improve sales messages for prospects.
- What features were most important to customers?
This will point to the features that hold the most value.
- What ultimately convinced customers to buy?
This will also reinforce what they value about your product or service.
02. How To Find Customer Needs
Now with tons of hypotheses, it’s time to put them to the validation with actual customers. There are several ways to get quantitative as well as qualitative data.
2.1. Customer Surveys
If you want to collect genuine customer insights, surveys are essential. Some tips to keep in mind:
- Ask the right questions
Don’t be afraid to cut all unnecessary questions and jargon from your surveys. They should be succinct, to the point and only include questions that fulfill your end goal.
- Follow KISS (Keep It Short, Silly)
A great rule of thumb for keeping user attention and engagement. Find the shortest possible way to ask your questions, and keep the tone light with casual copy. Speak directly to them, from one human to another to get genuine responses.
- Use Yes/No and open-ended questions
Mix up the questions based on your expected response for best results. FOr example, if the question has a simple outcome, frame it as a Yes/No option. This saves the user time and energy.
For deeper insights into your customers true feelings, plant a few unbiased, open ended questions to encourage them to spill their true thoughts.
- Use incentives
Survey response rates increase by 5 to 20 percent with incentives, according to studies.A small discount, giveaway or account credit as a reward can decrease survey abandonment.
Your surveys can take the form of a pop-up window on site, but the most common medium is through email. Using your email list, customers can respond in their own time without intrusion.
2.2. Interview your customers
The idea “to think like a customer” will bring us the power to do qualitative research. To be able to think like someone, you must spend time talking to that person.
Your priority is to interact with your customers as much as possible. It focuses on detailed, individualized responses to open-ended questions. Once you know how to speak their language, everything is easy.
Try to engage with customers in real-time by using live-chat channels, or at least pop-ups to encourage them to communicate indirectly with you. If you have plenty of resources, get your customers on the phone so you can go deeper with them into their pains, needs, and challenges.
PageFly has a live chat system integrated in-app so the team can interact with customers in real-time.
If you’re running short on time, there is no better inside source of information than a customer support team to supply you with insights (or sales reps).
Training your customer support team (or yourself, if you’re running a one-person business) to actually listen and understand people. Learn to transform gained information into valuable suggestions for the product/service. Look for patterns and keep asking “why” to take away the insight they generate.
03. Understand Customer Needs To Drive Sales
If you have time and resources and you want to go to the end of pain with your customers, be one of them.
You should step into their shoes so you can imagine how they feel and react in different scenarios. If you sell clothes, go buy clothes online, or even household appliances and food.
Ultimately, this is the best way for understanding your customer’s minds, what triggers them and what doesn’t.
But remember to not overuse this approach – it’s hard to give yourself a wake-up call when you’re being overly self-indulgent. We’re all human and we should be understanding with each other, but you are eventually just one person speaking your mind, not 1000 people doing so.
Make sure to always run tests to review your hypotheses first, then make business decisions based on them.
Whether you serve high tech, retail, internet or B2B customers, the very first step to increase customer retention and capture more sales is to understand them. Serving your own needs first will result in failure, and your online store is the crucifix where you will hang.
In today’s fast-paced world of cyber entrepreneurs and criminals, you need to establish yourself as a world-class organization with global reach that listens and responds.
As a business owner, providing value to your customers should be at the forefront of your mind. Even the most difficult customers can be converted into loyal patrons. It all starts with understanding.
Once you’ve mastered this understanding, it’s time to implement and look to conversion rate optimization tools. Check out PageFly.io for boosting sales with Shopify.