Product Development: How to Capture and Manage Customer Needs

Posted by Maziar Adl
Maziar Adl
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Customer feedback is an important element that should be considered in the product development process. Why? Firstly, it affirms your commitment to your product users, and secondly, it lets them know you are listening. 

As a product manager, your key role is to fulfill two interrelated goals:

  1. To develop products that satisfy the goals of the company
  2. To build products that people want to buy

Success depends on your ability to successfully integrate the two, and in this post, we will examine the ways of capturing customer needs and how managing these needs correctly is a vital aspect of effective product development.


Focus On A Product That Creates Value

Illustration: focus one productLet's start by talking about creating value for the consumer. If the business goal is to break into a new market, how do we achieve this? We need to understand the following: 

  • What the pain points for the customer are
  • Which product or solution will address these needs
  • What value do they place on the product or feature
  • How much are they willing to pay for it 

However, when we talk about value, we must consider value not only from the perspective of the consumer but the business too. 

  • What if the features that the consumer wants are too costly to build? 
  • Is there enough value in the product that the consumer is willing to pay more? 
  • Do adding these features and producing this product align with the overall goals of the company? 

So the key question is, what products can we build that will make the consumer happy and allow us to achieve our business goals? Long-term success is achieved by striking a balance between the two. 


What Does The Customer Want?

Illustration: personal informationWhen it comes to determining what the customer wants, it is important to realize that we may not be the target audience for the product. We might have an idea of a product that we would like to build, but is this really the product that the customer wants? In order to understand your market, you need to:

  • Meet your customer face to face
  • Empathize and listen to what they have to say
  • Understand what their pain points are 
  • Put yourself in their shoes

You can take several routes to connect with the customer to become better informed about their needs.


Customer Success Teams

Customer success teams are an essential resource for information about your users. They deal directly with the customer and receive important feedback, so you can identify the following:

  • What features do they value about your product
  • What they dislike about the product
  • Features they would like to see improved or added

Through interaction with the customer success team, you gain better insight into what your customers want, need and how much they are willing to pay. This information will allow you to improve your product or build a better one.


Direct Observation 

Direct observation is a great tool for identifying new products that the consumer needs. The success of this method relies upon the researcher to observe rather than bombard their subject with questions. Researchers observe people going about their daily activities and focus on problems they may encounter in their physical space. When the customer need is identified, the product development team can begin to address how to meet that need.  


Market Research

Market research should be an ongoing process with the aim of identifying the following:

  • Current trends
  • Changes in the market
  • New technology

More specifically, market research is often conducted to determine the viability of a new product or service using a variety of research methods. 


Focus Groups

Focus groups are designed to collect data through group interaction. They typically include members that are representative of the target market. They can be useful for gaining insights into the following:

  • To identify customer needs
  • To identify how products are used
  • To identify perceived value and flaws in a product
  • To test new products


Mail Surveys

As an indirect method of connecting with your target audience, surveys are useful to determine how the consumer feels about a particular product, brand, and price point.


Analyze and Organize Your Feedback

Illustration: business growthAnalyzing and organizing your feedback can look something like this:

  • Identifying what big problems you can solve
  • Finding solutions to cater to the majority
  • Understanding which new features will attract more customers
  • Knowing the costs of these changes

While meeting customer needs is important, managing them in alignment with the company vision should look more like this: How can we create a product that provides the most value for our consumers but still advances the business goals of the company?

Analyze and organize your feedback so the features of the product offer a great user experience but still align with the big-picture goals of the company. Use product roadmap software analysis tools and collaborate closely with your product teams. 


Refer Back To The Product Roadmap

Illustration: path to business goalsYour product roadmap guides the strategy. When referring to customer needs and wants, it is important to balance these with overall business goals and the product vision. Create a visual product roadmap that has the following elements built into it. 

  • Create a goal-oriented roadmap. By clearly defining the product's short, mid, and long-term goals, you can map out the trajectory the product must take to achieve them.
  • Create a realistic roadmap. A realistic roadmap is actionable and should be validated by your stakeholders.

Refer back to the product roadmap to ensure any changes align with the goals. 


Draw on the Expertise of Your Product Teams

Your product teams can offer helpful insights that will allow you to develop the concept of the product. They can:

  • Innovate - how do we meet the customer's needs? What product and which features will resolve their problem? 
  • Solve problems - How do we fix this? 
  • Point out drawbacks - While the customer may want a specific feature, these changes may not be practical.

The product managers must draw on the expertise and guidance of their teams to build a successful product that meets customer needs and fulfills business goals.


Other Ways to Capture Customer Needs

While it is essential to consider qualitative data when making product decisions, it is helpful to balance it with quantitative data for more informed decision-making.

  • Compare products within your line to assess for gaps and opportunities
  • Review user experience and journeys to find places where experience can be improved
  • Analyze your products with the competition and focus on closing the gap

While capturing customer needs is important, it is impossible to address all of their desires. If you take a customer-focused approach, you risk losing track of the company vision. If you focus solely on the business goals, your risk losing market share. Striking a balance requires the leadership of a thoughtful product manager who can analyze by taking both a qualitative and quantitative approach to decision-making. 

Here at Gocious our mission is to provide product managers with software that helps them create great products. Book a live demo to see the benefits of our software.

Topics: Product Management, Product Development

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