Identifying Customer Needs
Today we will start a new topic, how do you identify the customer needs for a product. In the last
few classes we try to understand the opportunity for the design of a new product. And we found
that if you have an intention to develop something you will ask some technical questions and
then try to get a mission statement or prepare a mission statement. And that actually shows that
you have an intention to develop a new product.
So, whenever you want to develop a new product, you need to find out what the customers are
looking for in that product. And once you know the customers’ needs, then you can actually
develop it and then sell it to the customer. So, the requirement here is to know what the
customers are looking for in this new product, and how do we actually identify these customer
needs. And from the customer needs, identify the actual needs that can be incorporated in the
product. That is going to be the discussion in the next few classes.
(Refer Slide Time: 01:18)
We will go with the customer needs analysis. And then we will see how these needs can be
converted to design specifications or we call it as the product specifications. So, the needs can be
directly put as a design specification. When the customer will say, it is easy to use. So, when you
say easy to use is a customer's need , how do we make that as a design specification?
How do you bring those requirements to the customer which will make the product easy to use
into the design specification or what are the things to be done in the products to make it easy to
use? So, that is basically known as converting the customer needs to the specifications of the
product. So, these customer needs will be mostly a subjective thing because this will be going to
be subjective, that is it will vary from person to person.
So, somebody will say, it should look good, somebody will say, it would be easy to use,
somebody will say it should be lightweight. Each one will be having lightweight, so what do you
mean by lightweight? Depends on individuals, so for me 100 gram may be lightweight, for
somebody 1 kg maybe lightweight. So, how do we actually quantify them and then make it more
objective is basically the product specification.
So, we try to convert the subjective needs of the customer to objective design requirements in the
product specification. So, in the next few classes, we will try to see how we identify the customer
needs first and then how we convert these needs into design specifications so that is going to be
the discussion that we are going to have in the next two classes.
(Refer Slide Time: 03:08)
Okay, so we will look into a few things here I will come to this little bit later. We will look at
how we actually define customer satisfaction. How do we say that the customer will be satisfied
with the product or what are the ways in which we can make sure that the customer will be
satisfied? And then we look at how to gather the customer needs, and then how do we prioritize
the customer needs and what are the other things to get the needs etc., and that later will go for
So, the first part will be looking at the customer needs to satisfy the customer. So, what we are
trying to do is here, we have the mission statement in business case study already. And now we
have a gate, so this was the stage; now you have a gate. Assume that you have crossed the gate
saying that, yes there is a good stock for development of new products.
The mission is very clear. Their profits market everything is understood, I mean to some extent
you know, and therefore we go to the next stage of customer need analysis. So, from the
understanding the vision for the product then we go to the customer need analysis which will
provide you a prioritized customer need list, which is the most important need, which is the least
important need, you should be able to identify, so this is known as the, this is the prioritize
customer need list.
So, we are going to see how we can prepare a customer needs list. The first part will look at how
we prepare the customer need list; and then we go for converting these needs into specifications.
So, the product design actually happens in two modes; this one will be discussed in one of the
One is that the customer asks for something saying that I have a problem with this product or
there is no product to meet some of my requirements. Can I have a product like this; that is
basically you start from the customers and then design products? The other one is the
technologists will know what is possible to be developed and then you develop it and then give it
to the customer then the customer will accept it. So, these are the two problems.
So, these companies like Sony or electronic companies they normally do not go and ask people
oh what do you want? Do you need a particular kind of a product? They will know what is what
they are capable of. So, somebody will ask okay I need a flexible display phone, nobody will ask
for a flexible display phone because they do not know it is possible. But the company which
actually manufactures displays knows that it is possible to have flexible displays, foldable
Therefore, they come up with the product with a flexible display or a foldable display and then
give it to the customer. Customers will be very happy to accept it because they can actually fold
it and keep it in their pocket. So, that is known as the technologist problem. The technologist will
know what is possible they try to develop and of course they will try to understand the customer
needs even in that case also.
But, it is not initiated by the customer or the market, it is initiated by the company knowing their
technical capabilities or technological know-how they try to develop a product. So, this is
basically known as a technologist problem.
(Refer Slide Time: 06:32)
So, this technologist’s problem is basically starting with the technology used to develop a
product, and you sell it in the market. On the desires of the customer you develop a product that
is the second mode of product development. Most of the time people are using a particular
product but, they are actually not happy with the product. They find that it is really difficult to
use, and that is the gap that a designer will try to fill by modifying the product, or coming with a
That is basically the product is based on the customer desires. These are the two modes normally
done in product development; we do not really work. We focus on this part because that actually
depends on the technology and the company. But, we look at how we actually start from the
customer desires and then design a new product. So, that is the second way of designing new
Okay, so let us look at the customer desires and then see, how can we satisfy the customer? Any
product you buy, you will be having some basic expectations of the products, right. When you
buy a phone, you have a basic expectation of what it should do and if all those things are
satisfied, you will be happy with the products. Yes or no?
When will you feel really upset with the product?
Student: Not satisfied
Yes, so when the product is not meeting the basic expectations that you have; then you feel that
disgusted feeling right. Oh! What a mess, why did I buy this product, it is a total mess, I never
liked this, this is not to buy these conditions, these products, so that is a second one. The first one
is, you are happy, you are satisfied, the second one is the first one is you are happy with the
The second one is you are completely unhappy, really disgusted with the products. Can there be
a third category? One is that you are happy, the other one is you are completely unhappy. Okay.
There can be some opportunity to buy a product; you have some expectations. But, when you
bought that and you found that it is much more than what you expected. Was there any situation
like that, any products?
What was the product? Mobile phone. So, you expected something it would do and then you
found that it can do much more than what you expected. So, what was your feeling? Happy, you
have something to say, laptop oh yeah. So, when you buy a laptop, you have some rising
expectations. But, then when you bought it and started using it, you found that it has got more
features or more functionalities than you have expected.
So, you can actually call this as a third category of customer satisfaction. So, the first one is
happy, the second one is disgusting or completely unhappy then the third one is you can say
delighted. So, any product will have these three. I mean you can have these three kinds of
satisfaction in a product. That is the product you buy meets the basic expectation that you have;
that is this curve.
So, you expected that this many features and it is fully implemented, you are happy. You
expected more, it is there you are happy; if it is not there, you are unhappy. So, it is known as the
expected performance curve of a normal product that the customers are expecting these many
features, you provide those features in a good way. Then customers will be happy with the
product that is known as the expected performance curve.
That customer will be happy, if you provide all those what you expected. Because when you buy
a 2000 rupees camera, I mean a 2000 rupees phone; you have basic expectations and you satisfy
that. By a 15000 rupees camera, you have some expectation and all those are met, then you will
be having a basic expectation. So, this axis represents the functions implemented in the product
and it is not there then you will be having a, which is not there you will be unhappy with the
So, that is basically this one where these functions are absent and you are actually feeling very
much disgusted with these products. And this one is you still do not meet the customer
satisfaction. So, this is the disgusting performance curve that is even if you provide the function,
people are not happy because that is not up to their expectation of the satisfaction that they are
And the third one is the delighted performance curve that customers are expecting. But, you are
giving more than that they are expected, and they expected something and that is absent. But,
still they are happy because you have so many other features, which compensate for that one. So,
at any point of time even if you do not provide all the features the customers are expecting,
people will still feel very happy with the product. Because all other features are there; they will
be provided much more than what the customer asked for.
So, this is known as the delighted performance curve for a product and the manufacturer or the
designer of consumer products will always try to be in this curve or they need to be in this curve.
So, that you can actually keep the markets intact, or nobody will actually capture their markets.
Because people will be happy with the product, they will be going for that product more and
more where that product gives you much more features and functionalities that you that the
customer did not really expect but you try to provide. And even if one or two are not there you
will still feel happy with the products.
So, we can actually have 3 curves and this is known as the Kano diagram of customer
satisfaction. You can have a disgusted performance curve, even if you provide all the
functionalities, people will not be happy with the products. Because it is not meeting their real
expectations and something which is the basic expected performance curve and this is the
delighted performance curve.
So, if you design the products, what will be your goal? What curve would you want to be there?
Naturally right. Because you want to be there on the delighted performance curve so that people
will be happy to buy your products. Even if there are few features not there still people will be
Why do we need to do this? Because it will be having a lot of expectations. I will be having
some expectations, another person will have some expectations. It is difficult to provide all those
things in the same products. So, even if some of the things are not there I still feel happy because
there are many other things which I did not ask for that are known as the delighted performance
curve. So, the purpose of looking at the customer requirement is to see how you can delight the
customer. It is not just to satisfy the customer, but to delight the customer.
And if you want to know, if you want to delight the customer, you need to know what the
customers are looking for in the product. What are the things they are expecting in the product
and that will come only from the customer? So, you need to go to the customer, ask what they
want and then find out what are the things they are looking for, and then what are the things you
can provide and how do you delight the customer.
So, the purpose of looking for customer needs is to basically ensure that you will provide all the
features in the product to delight the customer.
(Refer Slide Time: 15:10)
So, what are the customer needs that you can have? So the customer needs can actually be
classified into 5 categories. So, these are the 5 categories of customer needs. The first one known
as the direct needs of a customer. Direct needs of a customer if you ask the customer he will tell
you yes; I need a 12 megapixel camera, I should be able to play video on my phone. I should be
able to send messages, I should be able to connect to the internet, Wi-Fi; all those things they
will be able to tell very clearly.
So, such needs are known as direct needs of the customer which were which are very easy to
identify. Just ask them, they will tell you what the needs are. Probably, they may not tell you in
the way the (design) designer needs the information. But, they are very clear about what they
need. This is known as the direct need of a customer.
So, if I ask you, what are the direct needs of a laptop? All of you will be able to tell right. What
you are expecting from a laptop all of you will be able to tell. Yeah compact, it should be
compact, it should be easy to carry, and it should have enough storage. It should have enough
speed of processing, it should have a particular processor. You are very clear about what you
So all those needs are known as direct needs which can be easily identified. But, there are many
needs in a product which you cannot directly identify and they are known as the latent needs of a
product. Many times customers would not be able to tell these latent needs. Only a designer can
understand the latent needs. So, when you ask for a mobile phone, do you ask for the charger
When you ask for a mobile phone or you buy a mobile phone or you ask for the needs of a
mobile phone. Do you specify what should be the chargers capacity, charger time etc? You do
not say, because you expect that will be already there, you do not need to specify. But, then if
you buy a camera, sorry a mobile phone in India and you might buy it in a European country,
what will be the difference?
Charger will be different; because we use 230 Volts, 50 Hertz of power supply and our charger
should be supposed to meet those requirements. But, when you buy this in Europe; they have a
different voltage level, different frequency and a different plug configuration also, the socket
configuration is also different.
So, are those things a customer would not be able to tell; the customer is not worried about those
things. So we expect that it should be there. So, these signs of needs are known as latent needs,
which says that the needs satisfy the system in which the product operates. So, only this charger
is only one example but there may be many other examples about temperature, humidity
condition, temperature variations, humidity, rain and all those things are there which will be not
known to the customer or customer would not be able to identify as a need.
But, a designer needs to know what is the need for that particular product in a particular
operating environment. So, such needs are known as latent needs of a product. Got it, what are
latent needs? So, latent need would not be able to directly tell a customer will not be able to
directly tell it, a designer needs to identify it from other sources.
Then other needs are basically known as constant needs; constant needs are something which
will always be there. Anytime you take any product you take there will be something which is
constant. For example, if you talk about a mobile phone 10 years ago, people would say good
picture quality. Now, people will also say good picture quality.
But, that good has changed because it is continuously changing. So, it will be constantly there
people will be always looking for a particular thing in a particular product. Such needs are
known as constant needs. So, old cameras where you had the films, so there we used to have 36
films, overall with 36 films. You will be always asking for okay, I want more picture rolls for
pictures in that.
And even if you provide 64 they will ask I need more; that kind of a thing. Now you are at a
speed of a computer, your RAM will say oh I need 16 GB RAM; you will say oh no. If you
provide 16 then I need more 32 GB RAM. So, this will keep on increasing, keep on changing; I
will keep on always being there. Such needs are known as constant needs of products. Anytime it
will be always there; will be constant, will not change in the future hours.
And some of the needs are known as variable needs; that actually changes with the products.
Some cases it may be there and the product changes that need may completely vanish. For
example, if you had something like a CD drive in all the laptops, all the computers. The laptop
had a CD drive; the desktop had a CD drive. But now nobody has asked for a CD drive, most of
them will be happy with a USB drive.
So, these are the needs which change with the changing technology. So, you need to know when
you develop a product, you need to know which need is going to be changing in the near future.
And then accordingly you have to provide a feature, so that your product can be updated at a
later stage. So, such needs are known as variable needs of a product. And the last one is known
as the niche needs.
Niche needs are very specific to specific products, not applicable to all the products. When you
have a particular product to be operated in a particular environment then only that need comes
otherwise there is no need for such a feature. For example, somebody is manufacturing
refrigerators, so normal refrigerators we know all will be having specific requirements.
Specific needs like you know operating temperature should be from 0 to 25 degree or something
like that. But, there may be a chemical lab or a research lab, they say no, my refrigerators should
work from minus 50 degree to 20 degree. So, that is very specific to that particular product for a
particular application such needs are known as niche needs of a product. And this is applicable to
power steering, ABS etc., because when you apply power steering for a particular type of
vehicle, there may be a particular requirement.
Similarly, ABS Anti-Lock Braking System, you try to apply in a commercial vehicle compared
to a light vehicle or a heavy vehicle. We will see that there are some differences which are very
specific to that particular vehicle. Suppose you have a 12-wheel vehicle which is a very long
vehicle and a very concise vehicle. It is ABS, maybe different from the normal ABS, and very
specific to that particular vehicle you can identify some needs.
So, such needs are known as niche needs of products. So, you can see any product development,
it is important to understand all these needs to satisfy the customer. Because if you are not taking
care of some of these needs then you are actually not satisfying those customer segments and
people may not be happy with the product.
Not necessary that you satisfy everyone but at least you should know what people are looking
for. Then you can decide which one is more important, which one is best important accordingly
to provide the product. So, these are the customer needs that you need to identify for a new
(Refer Slide Time: 23:09)
So, I explained all these things, I am not going to again. So, this so the first category considers
the observability that is the direct needs comes from the observability of an individual. So, you
can observe and then say these are the needs. When I say a particular product, I can clearly tell
these are the things I need because that is easily understood by observing the things. The second
consideration is the technology change and the other category comes from the variance in the
customer needs space.
Because there are a lot of people and there are a lot of variations in the customer segments, and
that actually comes from this one. Thus, as the customer segment varies we will be having
constant needs and variable needs change. So, you can say sorry this one, the niche needs, this is
the second one, which is coming from the variance in the technology. Thus constant needs and
So, in a customer in the product development exercise to understand the customers you need to
look at all these needs and then see how you identify the needs. And that is the first stage in
product specification development that is you identify the customer requirements and then say
convert these requirements into objective design specifications.
Got it, the 4 types of needs; the first two are important then the direct need and latent need are
the most important part here because they are the most important. Which one affects the
observability of the product? The other actually decides more on the designers to understand the
technology change and it’s concise. So, the question is now, what are the ways in which you can
identify the direct needs and latent needs of products. How do we identify this in a systematic
You can actually simply ask a few people and then get it or I can have a very systematic way of
identifying the customer needs. So, this is what we are going to discuss. What are the ways in
which we can identify the customer needs?
(Refer Slide Time: 25:18)
So, there are few steps involved in this one. Now, identifying the customer needs; the first part is
known as gathering the raw data from the customers. And customer data I mean customer needs
can come only from the customer. You cannot sit in a room and then interpret or predict what
will be the requirement of a customer. So, you need to collect the raw data from the customer by
going to the customer and asking the customer, what actually you are looking for in these
So, that is known as the raw data collection; so, the raw data will be in a very raw form, the
customer will say, oh this is too heavy; so you ask him, you will say it is too heavy. That is his
requirement or he will say it is difficult to carry. So, these are the things customers will say and
then it is your job as a designer to see and to interpret this data and then say, what is the actual
need the customer is talking about?
When he says, it is difficult to carry, you need to find out if it is because of the size, is it because
of the weight or is it because of its appearance. What is that makes you feel uncomfortable in
carrying the products. So, that is basically known as interpreting the raw data in terms of
customer needs. So, you have to interpret what the customer is talking about and then write down
what is the actual need he is talking about.
And when you talk to 100 people, each one will give you 20 needs. So, you have 2000 needs
now. What will you do with all these two 2000 needs? Just raw data when you have many people
a lot of data will be generated. You convert all these data into customer needs and then what you
need to do is to organize the needs into a hierarchy of primary, secondary and tertiary needs.
So, what are the most important needs? What is the secondary need of the customer? What is the
tertiary need of the customer? This one you need to organize well and then establish the relative
importance of each need. Which is the top most need that should be satisfied? So, you have to
rank them 1, 2, 3, 4 etc., and then say that this is the needs that should be satisfied in the
At least it should identify around the 10 products, 10 needs that customer is looking for or
customer is interested in. And then reflect on the results and then see whether what you have
understood is correct or not. This is the process for identifying the customer needs. So, you are
trying to identify the customer needs first by collecting the raw data from the customer and then
interpreting the raw data in terms of customer needs.
Then third, organizing the needs into a hierarchy and then deciding which the most important
needs is. And this is what you need to do as a designer in order to design a new product in order
to develop new products. Any questions? Are you able to follow, yes or no? Okay. Please stop
me in case you have any questions or you feel that okay something needs more explanation.
Alright so let us move to the method by which we do the collection.
(Refer Slide Time: 28:53)
So, as I told you, gathering the customer needs; the first one is basically getting the raw data. So,
raw data can be collected either through interviews, you go and interview the customers. And
that is known as the first method of collecting the customer data from customers. The
requirements of the customer can be obtained from interviews or you can prepare a
questionnaire. Send it to many customers, ask them to answer this and then give it to you.
That is the second one known as the questionnaires. The third one is known as the focus groups,
that is you call some particular group of people to a meeting, talk to them, ask those questions
and then collect the data. That is known as the focus groups. And the last one is known as the, be
the customer. You imagine yourself as a customer and then try to answer the questions.
If I am a customer for this product; what will be my requirements? What are the needs I will be
having in these products? That is basically known as, be the customer. So, you can go for any of
these methods to collect the data but the most information per quantity you will be getting from
interviews. You can interview the people, ask questions, record the information and then look at
what they are looking for in this product. This is known as the interview method of data
So, I will be looking at how we do this interview method of data collection. We will not be
looking at the other methods, this is the most efficient way of doing it. We will skip this and one
of the methods for interview is known as a Like/Dislike method of interviewing. You go to a
person and have a particular format which we call a Like/Dislike method of data collection. And
ask these questions and try to find out what are the customer requirements we will be having.
If you ask directly what you need in this product; they will not be able to tell you clearly. But, if
you be more specific or clearly ask questions and they will be able to tell what kind of needs they
have. So, these methods like dislike methods help you to identify the customer preferences,
customer requirements in a direct way by asking questions. So, we will see how to do this
method of like dislike methods, let me skip this.
(Refer Slide Time: 31:30)
So, this method is a simple one, what we will be having, you will be having a paper with few
questions in this one. That is you will be asking the customer some questions and try to assist the
answer from him. And say okay this will be the questions you will be having, and this will be the
response of the customer and this will be the interpretation of the designer for you. The question
will be, what the typical uses of these products are or typically what purpose you use these
products that is known as the typical use, typical use of the product.
For example, if you are interested in buying a product I can take for example, okay let us take a
cycle. What are the typical uses you have for your cycle, this is a simple question right. You will
see how I use it to go from hostel to college class and come back and as these are the only one
you are doing. Now sometimes I use it for roaming, sometimes I use it for carrying things from
Sometimes I use it for carrying my friends whether boyfriend or girlfriend I will be taking, my
friends for a ride. So, these are the different uses for cycles. So, each use clearly tells that there is
a particular need for that. When you say that you are using it only for going from class to hostel
then you do not need to have a second seat in the cycle, or you do not need a carrier in the cycle.
But, when you are trying to take this for carrying things then the question comes, what would be
the weight of the person you are carrying is it heavy or it is a light person? So, these are the
questions that will be coming. So, typical use of the product becomes important because that
actually tells you what are the basic requirements that you will be having in that particular use or
particular customer needs.
Then, you will ask okay, are you using a cycle now? Yes I am using a cycle. So, what do you
like in that product? What are the things you like about this particular cycle? You have products
whatever the product is you ask. What are the things you like? So he will say, oh it is looking
very good and it is very robust. I mean I do not need to do servicing.
I can carry weight, feel the number of people can actually be 2-3 people easily, I can take 2-3
people, and the pedalling is very easy. So, you will be getting a lot of answers for this from the
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