Customer needs - a set of unique needs and expectations wich every customer has. Meeting them is strictly connected with the customer's experience and satisfaction.The company's point is not only to meet properly the needs but also to exceed them to build the best relationship with the customer. The customer expects that these needs will be fulfilled by the product or service he/she chooses. Customers needs are not the synonym for customer requirements - needs are variable and depends on different factors e.g. time or age and requirements are "fixed and mostly internal" (Harrington H.J. and McNellis T. 2006, p.88).
Identifying customers needs
Recognizing customer's needs is the key point for every enterprise because based on their way to achieve customer satisfaction can be identified.The company aims to discover these needs and expectations because this would lead in the end to bigger customer satisfaction which is "key to continuing to earn profit" (Jackson K. and Fringon N.L 1998, p.2). It's a tough task to do for companies because the needs are changing all the time. Microeconomics proves that the needs are changing because when the want has been met (eg.chocolate ice cream) the customer is no longer willing to rebuy this product in near future because of his/her craving for that particular product have been satiated. Identifying the customers' needs starts with listening to the VOC - Voice of Customers. At this point, it is vital to profile the customer population and "then integrate premier-customer base into internal- organization process"(Harrington H.J. and McNellis T. 2006, p.88). Nowadays, companies are getting consumers' opinions and recognizing their new wants through the Internet. Even though we can point out a few methods of identifying customers needs such as:
- "qualitative and ethnography interviews" (Urban G.L. 2003, p.3),
- Conjoint analyses,
- AIO studies (activities, interests, and options),
- Tailored interviewing.
- Customer surveys
- Steering committees - meeting which gathers five of the organization's biggest consumers
Types of customer needs
We can divide customer types into two main groups:
- expressed - they are communicated and admitted by the consumer, for identifying them commonly are used traditional techniques of market researches such as surveys or interviews.
- latent - they "cannot be articulated" (S.F. Slater and J.C. Narver 1998, p.1001), and are harder to discover by a company than the expressed ones and require using untraditional market researches such as observing user's daily routine actions.
Fulfilling customers needs
Mostly, to satisfy consumers' needs it is vital need to focus on three main attributes: Quality, Schedule and Cost. Maslow's hierarchy of needs refers to the customers' needs as well, when the one individual need is fulfilled the hierarchy is being advanced up and then new needs, which have not existed before can appear and the customer will start looking for new attributes of the product (Harrington H.J. and McNellis T. 2006, p.88). Considering customers' needs we need to think of two things: the place of the company in the supply chain and moment when the customer is meeting company (customer interfaces). Every company can have different ways to respond to these needs - mostly they consider customer relations and servicing of customers. Improving the area of customers' needs can lead to an increased competitive edge, but also can have a positive impact on the company's management and employees' workplace. For example, a truck can meet around 100-150 different customer needs (G.L. Urabn and J.R. Hauser 2003, p.2).
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- Harrington H.J. and McNellis T.(2006), Project Management Excellence: The Art of Excelling in Project Management, Paton Professional, Chico
- Jackson K. and Frigon N.L. (1998), Fulfilling Customer Needs: A Practical Guide to Capacity Management,John Wiley & Sons, Canada
- Sharif Ullah A.M.M. and Tamaki J. (2011), Analysis of Kano-Model-Based Customer Needs for Product Development, "Systems Engineering"
- Smith I. (2012)., Meeting Customer Needs, Routledge Publishing, Oxford
- Slater S.F. and Narver J.C. (1998), Customer-led and market-oriented: let’snot confuse the two, "Strategic Management Journal", no.19
- Urban G.L. and Hauser J.R. (2003), “Listening In” to Find and Explore New Combinations of Customer Needs
Author: Barbara Fidelus