Understanding customer needs and their requirements is critical for an organization to stay in business and are often used interchangeably. Yet, they are not the same. For business purposes, needs and requirements are two separate entities and converting customer needs into specific, measurable, relevant requirements is very important for the success of a business.

Needs are those motivators that drive a customer to pick and purchase a product or service. The need could be anything that drives them to search for a solution to a problem. These needs can also motivate that customer to return to you, or if dissatisfied, search for a new source to provide a solution to their problem.

There are essentially two types of customer needs: physical and psychological. An example of a physical need is the need to drink. The psychological need in this case might be the desire for a particular product or brand to satisfy their need in a specific way.

Need – Hot cappuccino extra cream

A requirement is a need that is explicitly articulated. Good requirements clearly define all the details of what the customer is looking for so that both the customer and the organization both have a clear understanding of those characteristics that determine if the customer will be happy with the end result.

Requirement – 16 oz. cappuccino brand xxx – heated to 65c – with 4 oz. cream & 2 tbs sugar – served in 20 oz. domed cup

The development of customer requirements begins with the gathering of information from your customer. Your customer may say “I want this”. Your job is to understand the underlying needs of your customer and document them into requirements that both you and the customer can agree upon. Good customer requirements are specific, measurable, and define how you will measure them without any ambiguity. They define the complete and clear set of characteristics that are agreed upon by the customer and you. Well-defined requirements are also measurable so there is no misunderstanding as to what they require and what you are providing. Well-defined and documented requirements lead to greater customer satisfaction.

It is challenging to understand customer needs and convert them into good customer requirements. EMMA International can help put a process in place to ensure good Customer Requirements are documented or even help with the creation of the Customer Requirements document itself. EMMA International provides Full Circle Consulting services, give us a call at 248-987-4497 or email us at info@emmainternational.com to get in touch with our team of experts today.

David Thuillier

David Thuillier

David Thuillier serves as a Senior Quality Engineer at EMMA International. He has over 40 years’ experience in various quality engineering and quality management roles. His background includes: development and implementation of QMS systems; development of supplier management systems including on-site and remote auditing for capability and capacity planning; government contract reviews to ensure complete understanding of contractual requirements; equipment, process, and product qualifications; introduction and development of Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) and Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) processes; root cause analysis and implementation of corrective, and preventive action processes; configuration management, design review, and new product introduction; and implementation of corporate wide information systems. Mr. Thuillier specializes in working with clients to help them understand contract requirements and develop processes that consistently meet customer expectations. Mr. Thuillier holds a Master of Science in Manufacturing Project Management and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

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