How to better understand customer needs
In SaaS switching cost is often low and companies need to stay on top of what their customers want and need in order to avoid them leaving their service for something new. It’s a consistent process of listening to customers, watching the marketplace, and implementing new features and improvements that match customer needs.
There are constantly new platforms and tools entering the marketplace that are improved adaptations of each other. Users have plenty of options and opportunities to switch to new tools instantaneously. The challenge is remaining the ideal solution for your customers’ needs.
Customer needs are what should drive the product planning and product marketing for long term growth.
What is a customer need?
At the most simple form, customer need is what drives a customer to purchase your product or service; in this case: sign up for your SaaS tool. The customer need is your opportunity to offer a solution to the user’s current problem.
How do you discover a customer need?
How do you begin to conceptualize your product? You should start with a market need. For us at Beamer, this was realizing that while working on expanding on our other SaaS product, we needed a product notification center to share new updates and features with users. So we built one and then offered the solution to other SaaS companies. Once you have an idea for a solution, you look for alternatives and solutions in the marketplace. In our case, we didn’t find one so we made one.
After you’ve launched your product, if you receive tons of feature requests from different clients, you’re not alone. Many of them may be conflicting and the opposite of each other, which can be confusing for your team trying to meet all customers’ needs. The next step is to learn how to manage requests in a way that works for your team and implement those product improvement requests into real updates and new features that make sense for your strategy. Your team will need to learn to manage feature requests, prioritize and plan ahead for a product development strategy that meets customers’ needs but also sticks to your overall product strategy.
Providing opportunities for feedback:
The easiest way to learn what the customer needs are is to ask. Your users are willing to give you the answers, if you’re willing to give them a way. Provide opportunities for customers to give feedback on how your product is serving their needs and what you could be doing better. The key is to make it as intuitive and simple as possible.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Send out quick surveys
- Ask users to rate features or the tool overall with an NPS
- Chat with your clients frequently
- Include a reaction feedback option everytime you communicate a product change for quick, direct feedback
Collecting data on customer behavior and analyzing it:
Customers are always talking and telling you what they like and don’t like as well as what their needs are even when they’re not actually talking. Product developers and marketers need to make an effort to pay attention to customer behavior within the product and on your site. What features and functionality are customers interacting with the most? What pages and pieces of content do they spend the most time on? What features do they ignore all together? These are all valuable pieces of insight that your team can use to determine what your customer needs are and match them with updates and features that keep customers satisfied.
Here are a few ways you can track this data:
- Heat mapping tools on your website and within your app
- Open and engagement rates on in-app messaging and chat bots
- Page and feature engagement time
Continuing to understand your customer’s own processes so you can continue to be of value:
A huge part of product development and improvement is knowing your customers’ own process and pain points within that so you can best support them with your product. The way your customers work can change over time and keeping up with that is part of product development and product marketers’ jobs to keep the product up to date and of value to your target customer.
How do you create a solution within your product for customer needs?
Once your team has a grasp of what your customer needs are and where you can come in with a solution, turning that information into a tangible change in your product is next. Your product team has to determine which of the features requests are consistent with your product and solves the majority of your customers’ needs. Your team is going to need to learn to say no to some requests that don’t fit with your overall product strategy. This is a never-ending process as customer needs change (as well as competitors) change all the time. Sometimes it may be that a new feature is needed or other times simply improving on or integrating in another tool is the solution. For example, Hubspot realized that despite their forms feature, users still wanted more capability in making live contracts and documents to send to leads and clients. Hubspot created a now widely popular integration for Pandadoc that keeps their users happy and not looking for other solutions.
How do you implement your solutions using product planning?
There is always an endless amount of potential changes, updates, and new features in the pipeline for your product team. What is important is timing and prioritizing what will be most important in the near future for meeting customer needs and what can wait until a later release date. You want to strategically introduce new features and updates so that users feel you are listening to their needs and answering them by providing consistent value. You want to show that your product is evolving to meet their needs.
How do you use product marketing to ensure the success of product improvements?
All of the work to understand customer needs, develop solutions, and implement that as features and updates for your users goes to waste if product marketing is not a top priority. Users will never adopt new features or know how your product is evolving to fit their needs if your team doesn’t communicate with them effectively. Product marketing goes beyond just making users aware of updates and new features but ensures their success through proper on-boarding and support from your team. Product marketers’ job is to make sure that the updates and features your team creates to meet customer needs are announced and introduced to users properly.
For effective update and new feature announcements, they need to be in context, easy to understand, and actionable. You are changing the process of how a product works for a lot of users, so there is a learning curve. Your job is to make adoption easier as a product marketer. How you announce and teach users about new updates and features is important.
The best solution for keeping users updated about new features is Beamer. Beamer is an in-app central changelog that appears as a discreet newsfeed in a sidebar. All users have to do is click the “What’s New” tab in your navigation or an icon in your app interface to open up the feed. There, they can explore all your latest product updates and announcements. You can make them very visual and easy to understand with photos, GIFs, and short videos that help users understand how they work right away. Beamer’s feed is in context right within the app so it inspires action right away. You can also switch on push notifications so that users get updates and CTAs back to the new feature while away. It’s the easiest, most engaging way to reach your users and make sure they know your team is working hard to meet their needs.
Customer needs show you where your true potential value lies. As long as you provide value, customers will stay and recommend you for continual growth. Customer needs are what should be driving the development and marketing process for your product for long term success. For the best way to show your users you are working to meet their needs, try Beamer today.