BlogHow to Truly Understand Customer Needs, Wants, and Expectations

How to Truly Understand Customer Needs, Wants, and Expectations

By Eric Smuda, CX Distinguished Practitioner in XI Strategy and Enablement

Delivering an effective customer experience is a journey, not a destination. If brands want to achieve transformational success, positively affect the bottom line, and create a difference for their customers, they need to not only listen to those individuals, but also understand who they are, what they’re seeking, and the experiences they’re having.

Whereas the previous conversation in this series focused on how to effectively listen to customers, today’s discussion tackles the next step in the process—understanding them. So, let’s touch on the benefits of taking time to understand who your customers are, what they’re looking for, the operational and financial realities associated with their experiences, and how that intelligence can produce meaningful success.

Solving for X  

Listening to customers is obviously crucial to CX success, but the journey toward building a better experience doesn’t stop there. Once companies collect customer feedback via a variety of methods and sources, the next step in this process is to combine customer feedback with a database or CRM so that they can better understand who is providing feedback. Companies can also segment this feedback by loyalty or non-loyalty club members, tiers within a loyalty program,  or CLV tiers.

Put simply, the brands that take time to truly dive into understanding who their customers are and what they want makes it much easier to prioritize gathered intelligence. Understanding customers also simplifies identifying actionable intel, which in turn enables companies to give customers more personalized experiences.

Tools of The Trade  

Similarly to listening for customer stories, there are three key tools that companies should use concurrently in their journey toward better customer understanding. The first is key driver analysis.  Brands can better understand customer acquisition, retention, and churn by analyzing the key drivers affecting those movements.

Predictive analytics, meanwhile, are an effective means of discerning what customers are looking for. This tool can also be leveraged to identify what those same individuals may seek from a brand in the future or what actions they may take later on.

The final and most important tool of note here, though, is sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis can detect how strongly customers feel about an experience (be that positive or negative sentiment). This heightened awareness of customer sentiment is vital to actually understanding them.

The Final Blend 

Customer profile information, behavioral or purchase history, and sentiment are all valuable information for companies to have close at hand, but they don’t provide a full understanding of the customer experience on their own. For that, companies need to contextualize customer feedback with financial metrics, operational metrics, and employee perspectives.

Adding these metrics and insights to a blend of customer information is vital for getting the full context underlying those individuals’ journeys. Brands that can see who their customers are and how that likeness plays out against financial and operational information will attain a full understanding of the customers’ perceptions of their experiences and why they happened that way. Adding internal context and ideas from employees also helps brands know how an experience can be improved.

Once organizations have profiles of their customers’ desires, experiences, and future intentions, they can go about applying that information to the experiences that they provide and create transformative success for both themselves and the frontline employees who sustain the brand. This allows companies to both personalize the individual experience as much as possible and to design new experiences based on their customer knowledge and segmentation.

Be sure to check out the next installment in our series to learn more about experience improvement.

Want to learn more about creating an effective success framework for your CX program? Check out our article on the subject, written by InMoment CX expert Eric Smuda, here.

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