3 Methods for Identifying and Leveraging Customer Needs

To truly succeed, businesses must capture consumers’ attention and satisfy customer needs.

The key to this is to develop products and services that stand out and appeal to the market. In other words, they need to be better than the competition, not just new and flashy.

If you want to improve your business or find a new way to grow it, understanding your customers will help you bring the most value to their lives.

Establishing Consumer Needs

To provide value to your customers, you must have a clear understanding of their needs.

Customer needs are problems that people are trying to solve that motivate them to shop for a product or service. There are numerous types of customer needs, including functional, social, and emotional needs.

It can be hard to understand your customers and what they are looking for in a product. Jobs to be done (JTBD) theory states that customers don’t just buy products; they “hire” them to get a job done.

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Customers choose products based on their needs. If you understand what jobs your customers are hiring your product or service for, you can create a powerful value proposition and drive innovation within your organization.

Jobs to be done theory helps you find solutions for your customers’ problems.

By aligning your company’s offerings with the jobs your customers need to be done, you can create new value for them. You can also avoid disruption by staying relevant.

Methods of Identifying Customer Needs

There are several ways to discover what your customers want.

Whether you are looking to improve your existing product or service or looking for new products and services, you can find valuable insights from a couple of sources such as current customers, former customers, and non-customers.

Here are three strategies to help you develop a better understanding of your customers’ needs so you can provide them with better products and services.

Strategies For Identifying Customer Needs

1. Self-Reflection

The first step to identifying the jobs people hire your product or service is to look inward. As a customer, you know yourself best.

Reflecting on your behaviours and experiences can offer clues to the jobs you’re hiring your product or service to do.

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As an example, let’s say you’re trying to grow your product offering.

Think through the last time you purchased a product like the one you want to create.

Ask yourself:

  • What motivated you to buy the product?
  • What were other options available to you at the time?
  • Why did you choose that product over the others?
  • What goal did the product help you achieve?

When you decide, it’s easy to assume that you did so for a particular reason. However, look at all the factors that influenced this decision.

2. Watch How Others Behave

In addition to reflecting on your own experience, you should observe other people.

Observation is an excellent way to understand what people need. Placing yourself in their shoes, you’ll gain a deep understanding of how each stage in the process looks.

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You may observe how they use the product, their goals and their problems.

Sometimes people use workarounds to achieve something that another product or service is supposed to do.

If you can figure out why a workaround is being used, and if you can meet that need with a better product or service, you may have found an under-served market.

3. Interview People

To learn about why people decide to buy from you or not and build on your observations, interview current, former, and non-customers.

The people who choose to use your business are your most valuable assets. They can help you identify why they choose you.

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Customers who have left your business can help you understand why they left.

Former customers and non-customers can provide insight into why they didn’t need your product or service.

Boosting Innovation with Customer Needs

When you want to understand your customers and their jobs, reflect on your own experiences, and study those you observe around you.

Conduct interviews with those who fit your target audience. That’s how you can understand who they are and what they want.


You’ll be in a position to answer critical questions like:

  • Why are they buying your products?
  • What can you do to make it easier for them?

Ultimately, finding out what your customers’ jobs to be done are (and what they mean for your product) can help you improve your product in ways that are important to them.


Understanding the job a consumer needs to be done is the key to selling a product.

If a business understands the customer’s job and then provides a perfect product, the odds of success are dramatically improved.

The jobs to be done theory is a way to organize for innovation. It helps companies meet the needs of their customers and achieve differentiation from competitors.

In essence, the company positions itself for long-term success.

About the Author

Eugen Spivak is a multi-award-winning author, business strategist, and a business coach. Eugen is the founder of the Canadian Institute of International Business, an organization focused on a better way to learn business!

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