Tap into All of Your Customer’s Needs

Make sure your brand meets both functional and emotional needs for your customers making a purchase decision.

Wendy Ruyle 8.28.2019

Your customer has both functional and emotional needs when making a purchase decision. Make sure you are meeting both sets of desires when you are planning a branded customer experience.

We talk and write a lot about how tapping into the emotions of your customers is critical to branding success. And that’s because it becomes more and more true every day. User experience and customer experience are both important in creating a pathway to purchase, but we have to pay attention to what makes the buying process easier functionally and emotionally.

Functional needs

Within the functional side of customer needs the most basic is whether your product or service is what your customer wants. Does it fill a need in their life? Does it do its job? If what you are selling isn’t up to snuff, you won’t meet this critical need.

Offer options

Next, we need to address things like: Does it fit my budget? Is it available in my location? How far do I need to travel to get it? How complicated is the process? Do I have the time to devote to it? Is there someone to guide me through new experiences? Make sure all of these needs are met for your targeted audience. You may not fit everyone’s budget, but you can provide differing levels of service for different prices. The three-tiered pricing structure is common for a reason. If you can’t have a brick and mortar presence everywhere, provide shipping options or remote working sessions.

Guide the process

Most of all, help your customers navigate the process, whether online or in person. I recently stayed in a hotel that had elevators with direct to floor technology. Meaning you select your floor when you call the elevator and the system chooses which car will be fastest for you and sends it right away. There are no floor buttons once you get into the car. While I found this to be very efficient through the course of my stay, it wasn’t readily apparent how it worked when I walked up. A 15 second explanation from the person who checked me in would have made me less confused and more appreciative of the feature. Simple guidance goes a long way.

Be accessible

The last big category in functional needs is all about accessibility. Remember that accommodations we make for people with disabilities help all people. An accessible pathway to purchase can increase sales and brand loyalty. Make sure your website has type that is large enough to read, is mobile friendly, has good color contrast, includes alt tags for screen readers, and has a clear hierarchy of content.

For in-person experiences help potential customers find you easily. Put your pin in the right place on Google for accurate directions. Make your signage and storefront readable and welcoming. Create walkways and aisles that are wide enough to accommodate carts, walkers, wheelchairs, and strollers. Regulate the temperature, noise, and light. Provide access to water and restrooms.

Emotional needs

Emotional needs are a little harder to define because you can’t get inside everyone’s head. One size does not fit all. The key is to focus on your targeted audience and try to meet their emotional needs.

Communicate your purpose

The first step is figuring out your bigger purpose. Why do you exist as a brand? As Simon Sinek would say, what is your why? This is how your customers will know if you share the same values. According to a study by Accenture, 62% of surveyed global consumers prefer to purchase from companies that stand for a bigger purpose that aligns with their own values, and will avoid doing business with companies that don’t.

Pay attention to details

There are, of course, smaller emotional issues to pay attention to as well. What does buying your brand say about me? For example, Target did market research on its Market Pantry grocery brand before a recent rebrand and found that customers loved the products but were embarrassed to put generic-looking packaging in their carts. Target refreshed the brand with a new logo and distinctive, playful typography that make customers feel hip, not cheap.

Establish trust

Other questions to ask yourself are: Does your customer feel cared for? Do they trust you? Do they get what was promised? All brands make mistakes, but how you solve problems can strengthen brand loyalty even more than if there was no problem at all. Set reasonable expectations and do what you said you were going to do.

Eliminate stress

Don’t forget to pay attention to your customers’ everyday life distractions and make accommodations for them. What’s the best communication technique? Email, phone, text, snail mail? Are they shopping over lunch hours? With kids? What can you do to make their lives easier? Think of the soothing cup of tea you are handed when you enter a spa. Or the crayons on a restaurant table to keep kids occupied.

Listen up

Lastly, make sure you really hear your customers when they speak to you. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been approached by three or more different salespeople in a store asking if I want help. Saying I don’t multiple times is annoying. And, if someone brings up a complaint on social media, apologize and address the concern. Don’t try to hide it or delete the comment.

As you map out your branded customer experience, keep in mind both sides of the coin—functional and emotional needs. Your customers will reward you with loyalty.

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