Some entrepreneurs spend years planning and developing their idea before they turn it into business, while there are others who, when they see an opportunity, seize it without hesitation. If you’re looking for the next big thing, you might want to stop searching for “best business ideas [year]” on Google or spying on your competitors, but instead, look into your customers for valuable answers.
From product reviews to even something as unusual as SMS scams related to your brand, businesses should routinely listen and communicate with the customers to find out what they think about your business and your offerings and spot any problems they might have with them.
If you want to stay relevant and be forward-thinking, listen to what your customers have to say. They are the best source of ideas for developing products and services that they need, and they can determine your business growth and longevity.
Why Focus on Customer Needs?
A lot of successful businesses do one thing in common: they take steps to meet the needs of their customers as a business strategy. In a difficult time like the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses are taking this further by supporting communities through the pandemic, for they know how it affected many lives (and businesses).
Customer-centricity means putting them at the core of your business. This allows you to deliver a positive experience and establish healthy relationships. Focusing on your customers gives you access to valuable and insightful data, providing you a full understanding of the customers, their needs, interests, and expectations. Additionally, it helps you make sound business decisions and help with inbound sales.
Tips for Designing Products Centered on Customer Needs
- Look out for an opportunity
Businesses must acknowledge that not every customer will support and welcome all products and services you will introduce, especially when you focus on the products rather than the customers. Analyze their purchasing behavior, search habits, and sentiments.
Drawing on customer perspective and knowledge enables businesses to find opportunities for new product developments that offer more value and solves customer problems.
- Gather data and measure the opportunity
Before you jump right into designing the product, collect as much information about market trends, customer pulse, and your strategic goals for better analysis and to gain valuable insights. After that, take time to evaluate the target market of your product concept and study their future buying habits.
You can use tools or techniques to help you understand your customers’ needs (and help them understand their own needs) and categorize your target audience based on a set of criteria to help you with your development efforts. The Kano Model is designed to help businesses develop a product or service tailored to enhance customer satisfaction.
- Develop the product idea
At this point, you’re fine-tuning the product concept to meet the needs of your potential customers best. You can do this by asking your leading users to answer a survey. Their opinions can help you predict future needs in the market.
Whether it’s an e-commerce business or a mobile app, trust the expertise of your team–the product developers and designers, marketing experts, and finance and management team members who have ample experience and a vision of the company. The competition, customers, and suppliers are also crucial to the progress and success of the project.
- Test it
Once you’ve created your prototype, it’s time to test it to see how it performs and whether it satisfies customer needs. This phase also involves the assessment of the product manufacturing cost and how much potential it has to turn into a profit. Additionally, you can adjust the product features according to the feedback of your test subjects.
- Determine your position and launch
What is the product designed for? How do you want your target market to perceive it? You may focus either on its functional innovations or emotional connection with the audience, or both. This is where you work with your advertising and marketing strategies to stand out in a competitive market.
Although the functional features are essential, keep in mind the human factor when launching your product. This will make it easier to promote the product.
Summing it up
Listening to your customers enables you to enhance the customer experience and determine opportunities to develop products and services that they’re looking for. Simply put, you win your customers’ hearts by keeping an ear to the ground.
Lou Zandrian Lobrin is Marketing & Sustainability Manager of Esquire Financing, a lending firm offering non-collateral business loans to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). He enjoys travelling, cultural immersion and meeting new people outside work.