Customer needs analysis is the process of identifying and understanding the needs and wants of customers in order to develop products and services that effectively address them. By engaging with customers and gaining a deep understanding of their requirements, companies can create products and services that are tailored to meet their needs and increase the chances of success in the market. This process is often the first step in product development or sales, as it provides a foundation for companies to build upon and ensure that they are meeting the needs of their target audience.
Business Needs Analysis
Analysis of business needs such as a firm that needs to increase the efficiency of a production line.
User Needs Analysis
Discovering the needs of end-users. For example, users that require an easy to use screen to complete a common task that they perform hundreds of times a week.
A needs analysis may build requirements from the ground up. However, it is common to start with pain points with the current situation. For example, a software salesperson might start with the problems a firm is experiencing their current software and business processes.
Goals & Objectives
Listing out the goals and objectives of an organization related to the analysis. For example, a firm might be purchasing solar panels to reduce costs or to reduce their impact on the environment.
Use cases and similar techniques such as user stories that document requirements from the user perspective.
Identify customer use cases at the extremes of possibilities. For example, a customer usually processes 1 million transactions a day but on rare occasions has processed as many as 44 million. Edge cases are a common source of unique selling propositions.
Listing out the things that the customer wants to accomplish.
Discovering basic expectations that the customer assumes are always included in a product or service. For example, a customer may feel its obvious that sales software serves as a customer database. Such unstated assumptions can lead to customer rejection of products and services as they are generally unhappy when an expectation isn’t met.
Capturing perceptions of products, services and experiences. For example, a customer who perceives chemical ingredients in food products as unhealthy or unattractive.
Listing the things that define quality in the eyes of the customer.
Things that are commonly added to products, services or experiences that customers don’t want. For example, a navigation system that displays a legal disclaimer every time you use it.
If you ask customers to list their needs, they often miss standard functions, obvious needs and popular features. As such, it is helpful to use a list of common needs in the problem space to validate against. For example, a software salesperson might have a list of the 100 most commonly demanded functions and features that they reference throughout needs analysis with a customer. If you point to something that the customer misses they will often agree it is an important requirement.
Different representatives of the customer may list needs that are seemingly contradictory. For example, one representative of the customer may require that a solar system fit in a small area while another may require that it have 100 megawatt of capacity. Needs analysis doesn’t tackle inconsistencies and leaves them intact. Inconsistencies are often useful in design or in structuring customer choices.
Needs that customers don’t want to talk about but need nonetheless. If a business is purchasing software, employees will typically state needs related to business functions. However, they may secretly evaluate software according to the likelihood its implementation will cause them extra overtime work.
Most customer needs are basic expectations that don’t impress the customer much when they are met. Delight needs are the small set of needs that customers can get excited about such that they significantly influence the customer. A customer purchasing a house may be relatively unexcited about architecture, interiors and equipment but delighted at the prospect of living in an area that’s considered posh.