Clarifying needs of customers

Clarifying Needs of Customer

You cannot manage a quality service organization unless you understand the nature of what you are providing; fully realize what your customers want from you and how they perceive you from the start. Once you have identified who your customers are, you need to assess what they need from your product or service.

Identifying Customer Needs

Customers have six basic buying needs pertaining to a product and these are:

  1. Safety.
  2. Performance.
  3. Appearance.
  4. Comfort.
  5. Economy.
  6. Durability.

Finding out which buying needs are most important to your customers will allow you to match these needs to the benefits of your products. For example, a customer's buying need might be for comfort and economy - These slippers are made from wool and are padded with foam, so therefore will be extremely comfortable. They are also on "special" this week so represent a great buy!

Customer Expectations

Your customers will have differing needs and wants, however customers have common expectations. The importance of these expectations may vary, depending on the type of product or service they require. Common expectations are:

a. Service

Customers expect a level of service that they think is appropriate for their type of purchase.

Someone who makes a small, spontaneous purchase may have a lesser service need than a customer who makes a large purchase.

b. Price

The cost of everything we purchase is becoming increasingly important, therefore the price component becomes a vital issue. The temptation for a business to compete on price is financially dangerous. It is a practice that should be avoided unless you have set out to be a "discounter". Alternatives to price cutting can include "value adding" (can you add value to your products or services to make your business more competitive?).

c. Quality

Customers have expectations of quality and durability. They are less likely to question price if they are doing business with a company that has a reputation for quality.

d. Action

Customers need action when a problem or question arises. Everyone has a need for recognition and like to be treated as a "priorit".

Categories of Customer Needs

Most customer needs can be divided into four basic categories:

  • The need to be understood : Customers need to feel that the message they are sending is being correctly received and interpreted
  • The need to feel welcome: Customers need to feel that you are happy to see them
  • The need to feel important: Customers like to feel important and special
  • The need for comfort: Customers need physical and psychological comfort

Techniques of Assessing Customer Needs

Assessing your customers need helps you to know your customers. By knowing who your customers are, you are more able to meet their needs. Different organizations assess their customers in order to identify what their customers need in order to provide better products or services based on the need assessments. For example, Radio stations and television stations conduct regular market research to find out who their listeners and viewers are and often adapt their programs to suit the audience. Radio stations particularly have become niche service providers as they specifically aim their product at a particular group, or niche.

Think about the following questions in relation to your team (or company) or B and B for Busy Bodies

  • What is your service niche?
  • What are the characteristics of the service/s you provide?
  • Who are your clients and what do they want?

The RATER Model

There are a number of different ways of categorizing what customers want and value. The RATER scale is one of the models that are used for categorizing what customers want and value. The RATER scale is made up of five elements:

  • Reliability "Do what you say you will do, reliably and consistently" Relates to timeliness, consistency, regularity, accuracy
  • Assurance "I need to be confident of the knowledge and courtesy of your staff" Relates to competence, knowledge, respect, credibility, honesty, confidentiality, safety, security
  • Tangibles "Make sure your facilities, equipment, communication materials look attractive and are user friendly" Relates to appearance of facilities, staff, communication facilities
  • Empathy "Treat me as an individual, in a caring and empathic way; understand my needs" Relates to access to staff and information, clear, appropriate and timely information, individualized attention
  • Responsiveness "Be flexible and willing to help me; resolve my problems promptly and effectively" Relates to prompt service, willingness to help, problem resolution

Documentation of Customer Details

Accurate and clear documentation of customer details is very important. This helps you for further future contact with your clients. Remember, the components of documentation of customer details you have learned in section 2.4: Maintenance of Customer Data

Last modified: Tuesday, 21 March 2017, 2:29 PM