Customer Needs Research
Customer Needs Research, sometimes synonymous with Habits & Practice (H&P) research, helps researchers and product developers understand the needs, wants, and expectations of customers.
Customer Needs research should help researchers accomplish the following:
- Identify important unmet needs of the customer
- Disprove false assumptions and correct mistaken internal beliefs
- Refine segmentation
- Prioritize future product development initiatives
- Drive growth via customer adoption, loyalty, and advocacy
- Improve ROI
This type of research also identifies unsatisfied needs that customers view as highly important. The resulting "need gaps" highlight opportunities for future product development initiatives and inform the design and development of new product and service features. Through customer needs research, organizations can satisfy the most important unmet needs of their target audience by enabling them to accomplish their desired outcomes more effectively, with less effort, and with greater enjoyment.
Customer needs research vs. consumer needs research
While the customer and consumer are often the same individual, it's important to differentiate between the person who actually uses the product and the person who purchases the product. For example, when a parent purchases a toy for a child, the parent is the customer, but the child will be the consumer. Understanding the difference between customers and consumers will allow you perform more accurate and targeted research.
How customer needs research works
Customer needs research typically employs qualitative and/or quantitative research to classify and rank the needs, wants, and expectations of target customers and/or consumers during key interactions (touchpoints) along the customer journey. These touch points can be ranked based on levels of importance, frequency, market reach, ability to deliver, or other metrics relevant to the business.
Typically, research begins with qualitative focus groups, ethnography, or field observations to understand user needs while trying to accomplish certain tasks or jobs. This phase takes into account the environment and context surrounding customer behaviors during each task. The next phase typically moves towards quantitative research to validate and prioritize those needs. Surveys ask respondents to evaluate various job/task statements, and often these surveys include a series of socio-economic and demographic profiling questions to enable deeper classification and segmentation analysis.
Well-designed and executed qualitative and quantitative research work together to allow organizations to improve the effectiveness, ease, and enjoyment of their offerings while delighting customers where and when they appreciate it most.
In this manner, customer needs research allows product managers, planners and customer experience leaders to better understand key gaps in their offering and prioritize development opportunities that are more likely to win in the marketplace.