Do You Understand Your Customers?


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No two customers will have the same perception of what an ideal customer experience should be like. It is up to you to understand who your customer base is so that you can provide the best service in a holistic way, despite the many differences across who your customers may be.

Understanding your customers’ needs and expectations can be more easily said than done. It can be confusing because their needs, wants and expectations may not even be aligned. Desire can even be a stronger motivator than need, so you might believe you understand how to meet your customers’ needs, their desires, which are less rational, might be their key drivers. If you really know and understand your customers you should be able to anticipate their needs, exceed their expectations and surprise them with the perks that they really want.

Employing the suggestions below will help you to really understand your customers so that you can offer them superior experiences by meeting, or even surpassing, their needs, expectations and desires.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes

To ensure that you are understanding your customer’s point of view, you need to put yourself in their shoes and engage with and experience your business the way that they do. Consider every point of the business that a customer comes into contact with and review and scrutinise every aspect of every part while playing the customer role. You might be surprised to find gaps in processes that aren’t as efficient for the customer as they could be or where helpful information is missing. Putting yourself in their shoes gives you the opportunity to disconnect from your role and examine how your business can improve from the customer’s perspective rather than from an entirely operational perspective.

Tip: Use research-based personas to identify how different types of customers interact with your business. This can help you to make significant changes to customer experience in areas such as store layout, products, employee training and more.


The importance of the insights that are gained from customer feedback cannot be emphasised enough. Surveying your customers regularly (but not too frequently) is important to understanding not only how you are performing, but also to identify who your customer really is. You must be proactive when surveying your customers as you want to receive as much feedback as possible. Send them surveys in a contemporaneous manner, shortly following their interaction with you to get the best insights.

While there is often a tendency to focus on the negative feedback, do not disregard the positive feedback as well! There is so much to be learned from your customers’ good experiences. Analyse both the good and the bad so that you can have a comprehensive view of which customer needs, expectations and desires are being met and which are not.

Tip: Use text analytics to track the sentiment of customer comments and easily identify areas for improvement or success.

Review social channels

While surveying your customers is incredibly important, do not forget to look elsewhere to see what your customers are saying about you. Social media has made everyone a public critic and many people are not shy about sharing their opinions and preferences about brands online. This is also where their friends and followers can see their mentions of your business so whether positive or negative, it’s good to keep track. Is there a part of your store perhaps that people are posting many photos to Instagram because it’s cool or different? Are people tweeting about troubles in a specific location? All of the information you gain here can be added to your organisation’s plans to give the customers what they really like and don’t.

Tip: Have a look at what your competitors’ customers are saying online. You may be inspired to address what they aren’t doing so well or where they are excelling to improve your own CX.

Perform a customer needs analysis

If you are really stuck on understanding who your customer is, you should send a customer needs analysis survey. Customer needs analysis surveys identify what your customer’s true needs are so that you can meet their expectations and desires. If you are launching a new product or service this is particularly useful for figuring out the real and perceived benefits a customer will receive. It can also be useful for identifying your business’s market position in the eyes of your customers in relation to your competitors. Furthermore, a customer needs analysis survey will help you to determine the various customer motivations behind their spending with you. Some might value the convenience of a product while others might value the aesthetic qualities. These motivations are different but equally important to your decision-making processes and for creating customer personas for your brand. With a needs analysis, you can pinpoint the values or traits of your customers that influence their preferences.

Sarah-Nicole LeFlore
Sarah-Nicole "Nikki" is a Customer Success Manager at CX Index, a Dublin-based Voice of the Customer (VOC) Vendor. She contributes her insights on the many benefits of prioritising customer experience to the CX Index blog. She is currently based in London but has lived in New York, Dublin and Paris. She has a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and an MSc from Trinity College Dublin.


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