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How to Gain Insight into Customer Needs

Everyone’s world has changed within the last year and continues to change daily. That not only means our current work has changed, but it also means that the worlds of those we support (whether that means internal staff or patients) have changed, and they are looking for innovative ways to do new and daily tasks. In the ever-changing environment, how do we help create new ideas? One way is by using an innovation process. The first step in this process is to understand your customers’ needs.

What is innovation?

Innovation can have many meanings, but the purpose of innovation is to come up with new ideas and technologies that increase productivity and generate greater output.

Think of innovation as building a new product, process or business concept or combinations that will produce new profits and growth for the organization.

Innovation is about creating value. Value is created by using knowledge about customers (whether internal or external) and their environment to make and deliver products and services that meet their needs. The more useable knowledge we have, the more value we can create.

How to recognize customer needs

How can your teams help with this? Understanding customer needs doesn’t have to be complex; we all have customers that we support in our work (other staff, patients, patients’ families, etc.). Having a conversation with your current customers and understanding their environment and what’s happening in their day-to-day world can make you think differently about what creates value for them.

Below are some steps you can follow to understand what your customers value.

  • Understand their environment: Set up a meeting with your internal staff or with patients receiving services from your organization and ask them about their current situation and environment. Ask them what is going well what their frustrations are.
  • Understand what’s happening day-to-day: During this meeting, seek to deeply understand their everyday experiences. Ask them what an average day looks like to gain a better understanding of what changes and stays the same each day for them (in their work or in their interactions with healthcare services).
  • Understand what’s changed: Ask follow-up questions to understand the top problems they are facing. These pain points reveal a lot about what they value.
  • Understand current needs: Ensure that you listen and ask questions about their top priorities (how they prioritize their time, their work, etc.) and learn about what influences these decisions.
  • Ask for their suggestions: While you may not be able to fulfil their every suggestion, it’s helpful to see what your customers really need by asking if they have any suggestions that would be helpful for the workflow they are connected to (whether as staff or a patient).

Listening to your customer and learning about their current needs is an important step in setting you up to rethink your processes to meet those needs. How do you currently learn about your customers’ needs? How could you incorporate these steps into your process? Please share in the comments section below.

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