Practical Application: Anticipating Customer Needs

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Anticipating customer needs is an important skill to have in order to be successful as a business. Use this list of questions as a means to help uncover and understand these needs.

Customer Needs

Successful businesses know what their customers need. They also know how to anticipate what those needs are. Anticipating customer needs helps businesses know what new products to make and how to market them.


There are different methods businesses use to find out their customer needs. Businesses can have cashiers ask each customer a simple question or they can send out periodic questionnaires through email. Focus groups are another method to find out what customers want and need. Still another way is to conduct anonymous surveys. Some companies send out surveys after a service visit or product purchase while other companies ask customers that call in whether or not they want to participate in a brief survey over the phone.

Whatever method is used, the type of questions used is important.

Questions to Ask

Here is a list of questions that can be used in order to anticipate customer needs. Use these questions as a starting point. You can add or change the questions to suit the needs of a particular business type.

Getting to Know Customers

Getting to know customers involves finding out their backgrounds and what drives their purchasing decisions.

  • What is more important when making purchasing decisions: quality or price?
  • Why did you choose our product or service?
  • How satisfied are you with our product or service?
  • How likely are you to refer others to us?

Anticipating Needs

Anticipating needs is what will help businesses to grow and retain customers.

  • Is our product or service meeting your needs? If not, how can it be improved?
  • Are there any features that you would like us to add?
  • If you could change one thing about our products or services, what would it be?
  • Has our product or service met or exceeded your expectations? Why or why not?

Analyzing Results

After gathering the results from the questions, analyze them by organizing the answers into categories and then counting each category. The size of each category gives an idea as to how important that category is. For example, after getting to know the customers, one business has tallied up the results for the second question about why customers choose their product or service.

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