When it comes to customers and UX, people might not feel the connection between the two expressions the first time they hear them in one sentence. However, they have more in common than you may think. The customer experience begins when people come in contact with your service or product for the first time and it lasts until the whole customer journey reaches an end – or even longer. So, as it seems, we must satisfy customer needs on a wide range of touchpoints.
This article will guide you through improving customer experience and thus meeting customer needs. It will give you our killer UX methods that can help you satisfy your target audience.
Customer Needs and Their Importance
To start with someone whose talent and knowledge you can surely rely on, Steve Jobs thought this about the topic:
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it.”
Start by understanding your customers’ needs before giving them solutions, so you can build the whole experience based on their real needs. Why develop something nobody will use because they actually don’t need it? You have to know what customers want to achieve and what jobs-to-be-done they want to solve by analyzing their behavior in situations as realistic as possible.
The Definition of Customer Needs
But before jumping in the how-tos, let’s see what kind of customer needs we have to face. Customers’ needs by definition consist of “problems that customers intend to solve with the purchase of a good or service” – businessdictionary.com.
What Makes Customer Needs Important?
This makes the importance of understanding these needs quite obvious: To satisfy the target audience you simply have to give them what they really need. Your business must do this if you want to keep more of your customers. Loyalty means profit in the long run, so start by mapping out customers’ real needs.
The Main Types of Customer Needs
Although customer needs come in many flavors, I’ll highlight just a few that we at UX studio consider most important.
- Experience. As UX designers, we know how big of an impact experiences can have on users or customers. Make the experience of your product or service clear and easy. It should require as little effort from the target group as possible.
- Design and functionality. Of course a designer would say this. But customers want to purchase easy-to-use, intuitive products, so as not to make themselves nervous about trying to deal with something annoying. We can make functionality just as simple as it seems – customers have some needs that your product or service must serve. People want their tasks done, desires satisfied and problems solved. As an example, you purchase a coffee maker because you want to easily make coffee.
- Empathy. Your customers have to feel that the people they deal with as touchpoints in your service can understand them and appreciate their needs, so they can trust the product or service.
- Information and control. This constitutes something so naturally expected. When someone wants to purchase something, they first want to know everything about the product or service so not to waste money. To serve this, we must give them all the necessary information the moment they first interact with your business. Control, as another customer need, belongs to this as people want to have everything in their hands. They want to easily control any situation occurring while interacting with your product or service.
- Fairness. Everyone expects this. As human beings, customers want to feel a business treats them well, as would someone who wants to ease their lives. We simply can’t treat a customer as just another task to do.
Of course the needs of customers come in many other flavors, such as price, accessibility, efficiency and transparency. We must consider these above the most important.
Learn This About Your Target Audience To Serve Their Customer Needs
To do anything with the above mentioned customer perceptions, we have to take a look at our target audience. Put the general needs of customers into a realistic context to work out a realistic strategy.
According to mbaskool.com, we should answer these questions:
- Who makes up your potential customers?
- What do they do?
- How much money do they have?
- What makes them feel good about buying?
- What do they expect of you?
- Why, when and how do they buy?
- What do they think about you?
Answering these questions can prove difficult. We must consider many parts of customer satisfaction strategy, so find a way to discover every possible ingredient for a great plan.
As the whole experience of the customer, customer experience brings all their needs together. But to see the whole picture, we should go a little bit deeper and understand what contributes to the customer experience where all the needs show up together in one journey.
Customer Experience And Its Relation To UX And Customer Needs
For SuperOffice, interactions between a customer and an organization throughout their business relationship define customer experience (CX). The point of the whole concept lies in making a customer return.
When people get what they need in a way they expect which satisfies them, they feel happy about your product or service. The customer can have positive or negative feelings and impressions when interacting with the different types of touchpoints, such as the employees, the product itself, digital and non-digital systems and channels and any part of the relationship between them and your business.
Customer perceptions will determine things in this story which interactions can influence. Usually several digital touchpoints relate to products and services nowadays, given the strong trend towards digital transformation in general. Websites and apps make a big difference in the way customers perceive your business, so we must design them well enough. UX can solve all this as the secret lies in making customers engage with the product.
As customer experience comprises a bigger slice of the cake, we should have some methodologies with which we can improve or evolve it. Luckily, at UX studio we have great user experience processes that can help you in this. Let’s take a look!
Our 5 Killer Methods To Serve Customer Needs With UX
At UX studio, we have used many powerful methods in our user experience projects, but let’s not forget that these processes perfectly serve customer needs as well. They really dig deep into the heads of the people who will use the products or services.
We need to understand the motivations and drivers. For this, we can use several techniques. Read about some of the most important and powerful ones here.
In a logical order, first comes creating personas. We use this in almost all our projects. You build fictive personalities based on your product’s or service’s target audience, the different possible customers. This great tool gains you more knowledge about your customer’s needs, problems, motivations and behaviors. It does so by facilitating workshops and brainstormings or “simply” gathering as much data as possible through qualitative and quantitative research. You can read more about this in one of our previous articles.
Customer journey mapping
As the next method, which we can also consider a next step after persona creation, comes customer journey mapping. This method involves mapping out the whole process the customer interacts with from the very beginning – and even before – until they use the product or service, and even after that, too. It highlights different problem areas and other points about how customers feel or what they do at different steps. Find a lot more information on this topic in my colleague’s article about it!
Creating a storyboard can lead to a lot of fun! Closely related to customer journeys, with it you can visually tell the story of how a customer would go through the process of interacting with your business. Drawing stick figures that show the basic activities of the workflow and writing a few words of description will help you predict the possible outcomes of interacting with the product or service. My designer colleague Luca wrote an enjoyable article about UX storyboards which I totally recommend for diving deeper into the topic. You’ll love it!
Wireframing and prototyping
A basic layout of a website or application, a wireframe consists of paper sketches. Consider prototyping its advanced version. It includes more interaction and details. Now imagine how this technique might only come in useful for building digital products, but works perfectly for services as well! This article would get too long to read to philosophize on this, but you can find more writings on the topics out there. Try this useful article. Customer needs merit prototyping. Next, gathering as many customer insights as possible with the next method below will make you more than happy.
When we have a prototype ready to use, we do usability tests. Based on a scenario, we test the product or service functionality and its ease of use. By gathering the insights, we can iterate and make the prototype better and better. Once we manage to meet user or customer needs, we can start the implementation. However, we could keep improving everything until the cows come home. Identifying and understanding customer needs form the basis continuously improving the product or service. To learn more about usability testing, read my colleague’s article on the topic – a really useful guide!
UX Methods Can Help The Work on Customer Needs
We have seen the connection between UX and clients needs in the sense of how we can approach them. After understanding customer needs and what types we can talk about, we can learn what questions to answer so we can move forward. The term “customer experience” has brought customer needs closer to user experience. Understanding this, we could have a deeper insight what methods exactly we can use when working on the needs of customers.
As an overall learning, UX methods can serve as world-changing techniques in such cases. We are constantly improving ourselves by learning new UX methods, so stay tuned! In the near future we might come up with something interesting!
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