Satisfy a Customer Need

What does your customer need? When you are working on a project, what outcome are the stakeholders asking? We need to stop thinking about our projects as a way to deliver a unique product, service or result, and understand that the purpose of our work is to satisfy a customer need. 

What does it mean to satisfy a customer need? Satisfying a customer or stakeholder indicates that they are taken care of in a way that they no longer have a shortage of something they hope to have. In our projects, we often make the mistake fo thinking that we have to satisfy every customer need with our project. When you are careful about defining the scope of your project, you are just describing the requirements that you are going to satisfy. 

The Scope Satisfaction Test

If you want to know if you have satisfied a customer need, ask the question: “What else can I do for you to make _________ better?” The blank is the part of the project that you have just delivered. If there is nothing else that the customer wants you to do, then you have satisfied the scope of the project. 

The Customer Satisfaction Test

But even if you satisfy the requirements for the scope of the project, you may not satisfy the customer. You know that you are fulfilling your project stakeholders (or customers) when you start to see the following: 

  1. People come back. Returning customers or stakeholders could look like people who are willing to ask you questions about other projects, or advice on how they should organize a project in the future. 
  2. People are willing to recommend you to others. You can always ask the question, “How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend?” You can also find out from new customers if a friend has recommended you. 
  3. People are willing to ask you for more. If people are asking for more or better service, they may not be saying that your service is terrible, they may simply wish that your scope is broader than it is. We might wish that your supermarket staff would treat us the same way as your BMW dealership. The only reason that we would consider asking for the next level of service is that we are happy with what we are receiving, and hoping that we can get more. 

Your work in a project or your business is to satisfy a customer need. It doesn’t matter how amazing your results are, if you haven’t satisfied a customer, you have not succeeded.