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How a Client Needs Analysis or Assessment (CNA) Can Help Your Business

August 15th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Eric Gerber

A female sales associate performs a client needs analysis with a potential female client across a table from each other

How well do you know your clients? I mean really know them — their wants, preferences and pain points? And how exactly do you know all that?

Consider this: 73% of all consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, according to research from Salesforce. Those are some high expectations.

It's common to worry if you have a finger on the pulse or your clientele — or, conversely, to slip into a mindset that you "already know." Either way, a client needs analysis or assessment, aka CNA, can set things straight and unlock critical information.

Here at Zoe Marketing & Communications, we've been doing CNAs with clients for 35+ years. We want to help you get to the heart of your customers' needs, too. In this blog, you'll discover the ABCs of CNAs, including:

  • Defining a client needs analysis
  • Why a client needs analysis is important
  • What a CNA looks like and how it's administered
  • Some common CNA questions to ask your clients
  • What to do with the CNA results
  • How a CNA roots out "bad fits”

Ready to discover what's on your clients' minds (and what to do with that intel once you have it)? Let's dive in.

Defining a client needs analysis

A client needs analysis identifies and evaluates what a client wants or needs from your product, service or company. It's sometimes called a customer needs assessment. The "c" can also stand for "community" or "comprehensive."

Either way, it has two key goals:

It gauges compatibility 

Is a potential client compatible with what you offer? Your CNA results provide a good clue.

It reveals how to meet your clients' needs

A CNA determines how you can best meet customers' needs — and how accurately that aligns with your product, service or experience. In other words, what will motivate them to do business with you?

Why a client needs analysis is important

A CNA is essential because it helps you understand the needs of your customer base and improve customer satisfaction. As a result, you can tailor your product or service to meet those needs better. This boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Without a thorough CNA, you risk losing touch with your clients. They may become dissatisfied and take their business elsewhere.

CNAs also help you set measurable client expectations. When you know what folks need and how you meet that need, you can explain it in plain, practical terms. Bottom line:

  • For a business, a CNA efficiently answers whether your services will help the client at the highest level.
  • For a client, a CNA affirms that their company cares about understanding and solving their specific needs. (Remember, Salesforce research says 73% of customers expect you to understand their unique needs!)

What a CNA looks like and how it's administered

It typically includes questions that help identify clients' needs and how those relate to your products and services. This is done in one of two ways:

  • A self-administered form or questionnaire, often sent via email
  • A more personal interaction with a sales rep, often by phone or video chat

Again, the goal is to clearly understand a customer's needs so you can determine how best to meet them.

Some common CNA questions to ask your clients

The questions on your client needs analysis will vary depending on what you offer. You might offer a mix of multiple-choice questions (particularly for forms) and open-ended questions.

General insights

To find out what your customers want broadly, ask questions centered around these themes:

  • What are the customer's needs?
  • What are the customer's wants?
  • What are the customer's preferences?
  • How does the customer use our product or service?
  • What are the customer's expectations?
  • What are the customer's pain points?

Many of these questions could also apply to prospective customers.

Customer feedback

If someone is a current or recent customer, hone in on more specific questions, such as:

  • How satisfied is the customer with our product or service? Did it effectively solve their problem?
  • What did they think of the price? Did it fit their budget and expectation of quality?
  • How was the “learning curve” for the product or service? Did they find it easy or difficult to use? 
  • How happy were they with the product or service over time? (You can check in at different intervals, such as 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.)
  • How satisfied is the customer with our customer support?
  • How did they hear about us?

Frame questions in a way that allows clients to be as specific as possible about what they need, want and expect. The more detailed the answer, the better you'll understand your customer. And you'll match their needs with the product, service or experience you offer.

What to do with the CNA results

Once you've gathered your data, assess how well your products or services meet customers' needs. There are three key things you can do from here:

1. Improve your products or services

It's a great call to action if your customers' needs are unmet. How can you make your offerings better? Listen to what they're asking for and make adjustments.

Once you have potential solutions, follow up to see what clients and prospects think of them.

2. Set measurable customer expectations and track satisfaction

Using a CNA to regularly assess your customers' needs gives you a solid baseline. Over time, you can track your clients' feedback to ensure it's holding steady or growing.

Remember that 96% of customers will leave a company over bad customer service, according to Forbes' Achieving Customer Amazement Study. CNAs can help you avoid being one of them.

3. Use it as a guidepost for marketing campaigns

Your CNA results are a clear, concise reminder of what your clients value most. When creating marketing campaigns, it's a meaningful way to keep your focus on what matters.

Throughout a campaign, objectives can change, as well as clients. A CNA is an excellent way to keep everyone on the same page.

How a CNA roots out 'bad fits’

Finally, a client needs analysis can determine who's not the right customer for you. CNAs tailored to prospects are a great way to determine if someone is compatible with what you offer.

If a potential customer isn't willing to spend enough on your company's product or service to make it worthwhile, a CNA can also pinpoint this. 

Is a prospect's needs, budget, location or other factor mismatched? By determining this early on, CNAs can save time and resources and avoid poor fits.

Next steps for connecting with your clients

You should take the time to know your ideal clients — and they expect you will. In this blog, you've discovered how a client needs analysis, or CNA, can achieve exactly that.

Looking to tailor your marketing to your ideal customer? Talk to us. Zoe Marketing & Communications will put our skills to work for you — starting with a CNA of our own, so you can see how it can work firsthand.

As you discover how to connect with customers, learn how digital marketing can help you achieve your business goals. Your client needs analysis helps shape these goals — and your marketing tactics.

Eric Gerber

Eric Gerber delivers a deep understanding of data, performance and marketing tactics as an analyst and consultant for Zoe Marketing & Communications. A driven learner, his marketing experience spans from real estate to women's hair extensions.