Understanding an Audience through Functional and Emotional Needs
We talk big in research, usually with complicated words, methodologies, psychological theories… At the heart of the majority of our research we are exploring understanding an audience, and within that audience a group of people with shared interests. How do we get there? How do you take multiple complex humans and easily summarize their core needs so you can deliver on those as an employer or a service provider? Welcome to “Needs 101” with me, Whitney.
Our human needs include functional and emotional needs. The most basic of personal functional (or physical) needs typically being food, water, clothing, etc. At work, for example, you may need a computer, wifi, a phone, or other items that are necessary for you to do your job. Usually, with customer experience (CX) or employee experience (EX), the functional needs are often met unless there are challenges around resourcing. What we find mainly lacking is the attention to our emotional needs as customers and employees.
Both functional and emotional needs fit into your organization’s culture and experiences, and overlooking one need over another means overlooking a fundamental part of being human.
What all this complication boils down to is our intrinsic need and desire as humans to make progress in our lives. Addressing needs separately for CX and EX may certainly aid in the building of your culture or experiences. Addressed as a collective, these insights can give you a sustainable competitive advantage. At Cast and Hue, we take all the information collected on needs, perceptions, and beliefs, and categorize them as the following:
Context: General baseline understanding of a customer or employee’s experience.
Constraints: An understanding of what has hindered progress for this individual within the experience. Constraints may push customers or employees toward competitive organizations, products, or services.
Enablers: An understanding of what has helped the customer or employee make progress within the experience. Enablers may pull customers or employees toward engaging with your organization, product, or service.
Desire: What drives a customer or employee to engage with the product or service. This is typically a short-term engagement that starts and stops.
Progress: The always important, ongoing “job” that the customer or employee is trying to achieve. Customers or employees may change because of a product or service that can achieve this progress.
Ultimately, every customer or employee is trying to achieve that progress, and your organization is helping them toward, or pushing them away, from achieving their ideal state and the progress they need to get there.
Understanding emotional and functional needs can be achieved in a combination of ways. Our most successful approaches include qualitative research to identify needs, and quantitative research to validate which states of progress may be more prevalent than others. Isolating and identifying the progress most important to your audience is crucial in the process of you knowing what things are happening and why, so that you can strategize on what to do about it.