We have moved into our brand new downtown office at the corner of Broadway and Bellview

9 Simple Ways to Find Out What Customers Really Want

9 Simple Ways to Find Out What Customers Really Want
Tim Parkin

Customers always prioritize purchasing from companies that they feel listen to what they need and provide exactly what they want. But to do this, companies need to have effective ways to find out what customers really want.

Many companies attempt to guess this, using their own opinions or the opinions of a small sample to guide them. However, this will not bring the best results. 

If that method does not work, how do you find out what your customers want? Ascertaining customer wants is done through customer analysis. This involves analyzing customer feedback left online. You will also need to request feedback via surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups, among other methods.

This data will unearth customer wants that you can act on. You will also be able to easily pinpoint issues dissuading prospects from purchasing that you can fix. 

To be successful, you need to be continuously talking with your target audience and taking in all feedback they provide. While this may seem like a hassle, especially for smaller companies, taking the time to understand your customer base can improve your business exponentially.  

To discover more about how to find out what customers really want, keep reading! 

Customer Research and Analysis 

To figure out what customers really want, you will need to conduct customer analysis. This involves collecting data on customer behavior and making sense of that data. It also involves looking at feedback and communication from your customers. 

Talking to customers and prospects and taking in their feedback should make it easier to see what they want from your brand. 

Customer wants can be categorized under a few areas. The main areas are wants relating to:  

  • Product design and functionality
  • Customer service
  • Overall experience
  • Price
  • Convenience
  • Compatibility 
  • Reliability 

Wants can also be categorized as relating to pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase phases. 

How to Find Out What Customers Really Want 

Once you have decided to include customer analysis in your strategy, how can you go about implementing that?

The following are nine ways to find out what your customers really want. 

1. Read Customer Reviews 

Reading customer reviews is a great way to discover customer wants. 

There are a range of places customers can leave reviews and ratings. This includes directly on your website and on business directories like Yelp or your Google My Business profile. If you do not have places to leave reviews set up, it is highly worth doing so. 

Once you begin getting reviews, you can analyze what is said to determine where you can improve to meet customer wants and needs. 

Negative Reviews 

The easiest way to see what customers want is by reading negative and neutral reviews. 

These reviews will highlight problems with your product/service, customer service, marketing techniques, and more. This makes it easier to pinpoint what customers really want from you and offer it to them. 

Positive Reviews

Be sure to read positive reviews too. Even though they are positive, they could still mention somewhere you could improve. 

For example, a reviewer may say your product is great but they wish it came in other colors. While they do not have a complaint, they do have a want relating to your offerings. 

Reading positive reviews also helps you see what you are doing well so you can keep doing that and improve on it. 

Competitor Reviews 

Along with your company’s reviews, also look at your competitor’s reviews. After all, the individuals leaving these reviews will be in your target market. 

Again, look at all reviews to see what these customers like, what they do not like, and what they want. Then use this information to adjust your offerings and potentially beat your competitors in providing their clients with what they want. 

2. Read Social Media and Blog Comments 

Looking at blog and social media comments can provide a lot of information about what your customers want too. 

To make the most of this data, ensure that comments are enabled on all blog and social media posts. Encourage commenting where possible too. For example, if posting to social about a new product, ask customers to tell you what they think in the comments. 

Like with reviews, also look at comments your competitors are receiving. 

Social Listening and Sentiment Analysis Tools 

You may want to use social listening or sentiment analysis tools to help with understanding customer wants via comments. These tools notify you any time your brand or offerings are mentioned online. 

They can also sort mentions into positive, negative, and neutral. This helps you easily analyze each type of feedback and pick up on common trends.

3. Review Customer Service Interactions 

Anyone that interacts with your customer service department will have had a problem they needed resolving. Therefore, reviewing customer service interactions is a great way to figure out what your customers want. 

Interactions to review include:

  • Customer support tickets
  • Live chat logs
  • Call records (if customer service calls are recorded)
  • Emails
  • Social media messages 

It can be a good idea to have customer service reps log issues each time they encounter them. This way, you can automatically see the kinds of problems being brought up without having to go through endless pages of transcripts and other correspondence. 

You should also separate problems and complaints into different categories. For example, was it a customer service problem or a product functionality problem? 

The action you take from this may be as simple as adding a frequently asked question and response to your FAQ page. But just having access to this information without having to contact customer service could be the “want” some customers have. 

Try to act on as many issues as possible. Even if just a few customers have contacted you with a certain problem, many others could have had this problem and decided to not purchase from you instead of reaching out to customer support. 

4. Conduct Surveys  

Surveys have been a popular tool for getting feedback from target audiences for years. Getting information relating to what your customers want is no exception to this. 

Surveys can be sent to any individual within your target market from current customers to potential and past customers. There are also many online tools, like Survey Monkey, that allow you to easily create surveys for free or at a minimal cost. 

Survey Contents 

What you include in each survey will depend on a range of factors. Ideally, keep surveys short with ten questions at most. 

Surveys can be very simple as well. You could just ask respondents to give a rating on their experience. You can then add a box asking for any feedback they may have.

If including more questions, opt for a range of open and closed-ended questions. Also, never use leading questions. For example, instead of asking “Would you say this was a good experience?” ask “What did you think of this experience?”

You can use feedback from other areas to help shape survey questions too. For example, if you see reviews complaining about the lack of payment options you offer, you can ask a question about this on your survey to determine the extent of the want for more choices. 

You could also add a box asking if the respondent would be happy to be contacted for some follow-up questions. That way, you can get even more in-depth responses on what exactly their wants are. Those who say yes to that could also be candidates for participating in a focus group (discussed below). 

Survey Distribution 

If using online surveys, the link can be sent via email, placed on social media, or in a forum, among other locations. 

Surveys are a great feedback tool. However, do not send them too often. General feedback surveys should be sent each quarter at most. The only exception to this would be if you send a survey to customers after each order specifically asking about that purchase experience.  

Net Promoter Score 

When getting direct feedback from your target market through surveys, net promoter score can be a useful metric to calculate. You can also use this metric in focus groups, follow-up emails, and other direct communication methods. This score offers a good overview of how well you are meeting customer wants. 

To calculate net promoter score, you simply ask customers “How likely are you to recommend us on a scale of 1(or 0) to 10” 

This is where a score of one or zero would be “not likely to recommend at all” and a score of ten would be “highly likely to recommend”. 

To calculate net promoter score, use the following equation: 

Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters - % of Detractors 

Promoters = people who scored 9 or 10
Detractors = people who scored 0/1 to 6

The best performing brands have a score of over 50%. Ideally, aim for at least a score of 20%. Anything below 5% is a major cause for concern. 

To use net promoter score to find out what customers really want, you will need to ask detractors why they would not recommend you. 

5. Use Focus Groups 

Another long-standing method for gathering consumer research is via focus groups. 

To conduct a focus group, you will need to get a group of about ten people. This group will then have an open-ended discussion about your brand and/or offerings. This discussion could be about the brand and offerings as a whole or you could focus on something specific like a new or upcoming product launch. 

It is often worth getting an external party to run the focus group. This avoids answers being skewed because participants do not want to be rude to the brand’s owners or employees. 

Focus groups work best if conducted in person, however, group video chat can be used as well. 

6. Conduct Interviews 

Focus groups have the benefit of allowing those involved to bounce ideas off of each other and build on what is being discussed. However, focus groups can sometimes incite biases. For example, one participant may be discouraged from giving their true opinion because it is not in line with the opinions of the others in the group.

When interviewing, plan some questions in advance then build new questions off of the responses you get. Again, be sure to use open-ended questions as much as possible and try to avoid asking leading questions. 

7. Send Follow-Up Emails to Customers  

A good way to get into the habit of requesting feedback and finding out what customers want is to send follow-up emails.

This type of email can be sent straight after purchase to ask customers how their pre-purchase and purchase experience was. Or, you can send customers an email after the purchase has been fulfilled to also get feedback on product/service use and experience. 

Within these emails, you can encourage customers to participate in some of the above methods. 

This includes asking them to: 

  • Leave a review
  • Complete a longer survey 
  • Follow you on social media - while this probably will not get direct feedback about their purchase experience, you will increase the number of people interacting with you and leaving some type of feedback on your brand. 

You could even ask if they would be willing to participate in a focus group or interview and provide a link to where they sign up for this. 

These emails can be sent manually but it is best to invest in email automation software to do so. 

8. Go to Trade Shows and Consumer Shows 

Meeting customers and prospects in person is a great way to understand what they want. Attending trade shows and/or consumer shows is an ideal way to get this type of feedback. 

If attending shows, be sure to send your most friendly and personable employees. You will also want to prepare questions in advance to ask the prospects they interact with.  

Just conversing in person about offerings helps to understand concerns, questions, and wants too. 

For example, a prospect may be looking at your products at your booth and ask “does this product do x?” You may never have thought about your product having that feature or being used in that way. By directly communicating with customers and prospects, a want has been discovered.

9. Make Use of Analytics

Along with information you collect directly from your target market, you will have information on their behavior via analytics platforms such as Google Analytics. 

Through website analytics, you can see the journey visitors take and where you lose them. 

For example, if customers are adding items to their cart and then not checking out, there will be a “want” during that process that is not fulfilled. Addressing that want should increase conversions. This could include wanting a more user-friendly checkout page, different shipping options, or more payment options.

You can then use this info from analytics to guide strategy and to form questions to ask when using some of the data collection methods discussed above.

Running Tests 

Along with looking at real-time behavior data, you can run tests to get more information on your customers.

For example, you could set up a landing page for a new product. Then test the reaction of people to see if they engage and convert. If not, then you will need to find out why and what it is that customers want in order to get your desired response. 

Long-Term Customer Research Strategy 

You will want to add customer analysis to your long-term marketing strategy. You can do this by building in customer feedback loops. This will make getting feedback, analyzing it, and implementing customer-centric changes a lot easier. 

This type of data collection and analysis is not something you can do at random or at pre-selected intervals. You need to be continuously conducting customer research and looking at feedback to pick up on new wants that arise. 

Customer needs and opinions will be changing all the time. You do not want to miss out on important feedback and potentially lose out to your competition by not meeting all your target audience’s wants. 

Remember to always make it as easy as possible to leave feedback too. For example by adding a reviews section to your website, sending easy to complete post-purchase surveys, and encouraging commenting on social media posts. 

In Conclusion 

Finding out what customers want and acting on that is crucial to success as a business. It may seem like an overwhelming task to collect and analyze all feedback from customers. However, the pay-offs you get from learning from this feedback and implementing changes to your brand will make it more than worth it. 

If planning to add customer research and analysis to your strategy, be sure to do so consistently, act on as much feedback received as possible, and offer incentives for giving feedback where appropriate. You should also be using this information to innovate where possible. Directly addressing feedback is a good thing. But it is even better to think about how feedback can be used to improve your brand in a way that exceeds expectations and results in product or service alterations that customers did not even realize they wanted.   

Hopefully, these tips helped you in learning how to find out what customers really want in order to become a more successful, customer-centric brand! 

Recent Articles

Need expert marketing advice?

Schedule your free consultation with Tim Parkin.
Schedule Consultation