4 Ways to Accurately Anticipate Customer Needs

You’ve given your customer a reason to come to your company in the first place and succeeded in solving one of your customer’s needs. Congratulations on a job well done. What’s next?  Delivering another winner that will alleviate the next customer problem is key to the future of the company. But how do you best uncover the most important needs they have?Web

Here are four suggestions to help you gain success in this important endeavor:

1. Look for the next problem to solve, not which product to sell.

Remember that the problem you solve is always the most important thing. It’s more important than the product or service that you sell. It doesn’t matter if you are business to consumer or business to business – making decisions based on solving needs will lead to a better customer experience, which will lead to increased financial performance for your company.

A great example where this philosophy has begun (early stage) to take root is within healthcare.  Many hospitals and health systems are increasingly focused on the patient experience and are beginning to see that solving the critical moments within a patient’s journey is intrinsically tied to their performance.

2. Pay attention and mine the future demand from the next needs of current customers.

If you’re happy with the success you are having with your current customer base, it is easy to look to expand your product or service to new customers. It’s vital to pause at this point. Stop. Consider your current customers as part of your future initiatives. Don’t overhaul your client base. They’ve been your bread and butter to date. Deny the urge to leave them behind for the shiny new customers preparing to knock down your door.

Alienating current customers could have a negative, if not devastating, effect on new business. Find a way to include them in the new equation. The technology industry does this well. The sheer number of mobile applications that have been developed using customer input to solve everyday needs is evidence. You may find your current customers provide even more positive impetus to that new product than those new customers waiting at your door. Your customers may not be able to tell you exactly what they need, but they can show you with their behavior if you are paying attention.

3. Let customers try before they buy.

Sometimes it’s necessary for your customers to try before they buy something new. This is why most technology applications and programs today have a free option with just enough features to make you want the paid version with all of the bells and whistles. Focus on allowing your customer’s point of view to trump your desire to dazzle them with new products immediately. Helping customers leverage the investment they’ve already made is a way to build trust and deepen a relationship. Make sure the customer recognizes you’re building on mutual, shared interests before trying to sell them the next thing. This gives you stronger relationships and additional revenue.

4. Give customers an easy way to share their ideas.

Hold a two-way conversation in multiple places and engage the customer in ways you can further alleviate their pain points or solve problems.

You must create open, inviting channels for them to use and effective ways to capture what they say and do. This can take the form of direct customer feedback via online forums, customer advisory boards, or phone conversations. Think about how often you are asked for your feedback by hotels, airlines, and other businesses in the travel and hospitality industries. These companies are capturing the voice of their customers to better their products and services.

Identifying additional potential problems or areas where customers are not fully satisfied can drive innovation. Testing those innovative ideas precisely and quickly will allow you to sink your teeth into the bigger, more time-consuming projects with more clarity.


In the end, you’re only as good as your customers say you are. Successful organizations devote the necessary time and resources to locate and alleviate their major pain points. They strive to deliver consistent wins for their customer’s needs, and their customers keep coming back for more.

What is your organization doing to accurately anticipate customer needs?

Deborah is a retail and wholesale executive who has spent the last 20 years leading business teams to continuously improve the customer experience.