Methods for Predicting Customer Needs

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  • 0:02 Why Predict Customer Needs?
  • 0:53 An Example
  • 1:25 How to Predict Customer Needs
  • 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Savannah Samoszuk

Savannah has over eight years of hotel management experience and has a master's degree in leadership.

A crucial part of running a successful business is determining and fulfilling customer needs. This lesson discusses the importance of being able to predict customer needs and providing methods for doing so.

Why Predict Customer Needs?

There are many vital aspects of running a business, one of which is making sure you're keeping your customers happy. That's why it's important to be able to predict customer needs in addition to providing good customer service. Predicting customer needs involves providing a service or product that customers haven't expressed a demand for yet. And this goes beyond your current customers. You need to think in terms of potential future customers, as well.

Car companies, for instance, are constantly adding features to cars, like touch screens, Internet radio, and Wi-Fi service, that consumers didn't even know they wanted or needed. These additional services were created to provide a solution to customers' needs before customers were aware they needed them. Successfully predicting customer needs can increase sales, profits, and your customer base, as well as keeping current customers satisfied.

An Example

Let's look at a real-life example of the benefits of predicting customer needs. In 1999, Proctor & Gamble released the electrostatically charged Swiffer cloth when researchers saw a woman accidentally spill coffee grounds on the floor and realized that there wasn't an ideal solution for quickly cleaning this small mess. A broom couldn't completely clean up the wet grounds, while a vacuum was too much of a hassle to employ for such a small task. And so, the researchers recognized a need before the consumer, effectively predicting the customer need and providing the Swiffer line of cleaning products.

How To Predict Customer Needs

There are many methods that one could use to predict customer needs. Let's look at two common techniques.

First is to study and spend time with your current customers. These customers already buy your products and might be loyal to your company. Studying their buying and product-using habits is a good starting point to anticipate the needs of your current customers.

Say, for example, that the general manager at a local hotel likes to spend a little time every morning talking to his customers at breakfast. This is when he gets the most feedback about what his customers want and need. One day, he spoke to a customer who placed a special order to the kitchen for breakfast. The general manager learned that the customer always puts in special requests, because he gets tired of having the same, standard breakfast every morning when he's traveling.

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