To gain a deep understanding of users, their objectives, and expectations, you can (and should) use the tools that have been applied by UX designers for years, such as:
• empathy maps,
• ethnographic interviews,
• observations of users,
• evaluation surveys.
Creation of an empathy map starts with choosing the most promising segment of customers for a specific product or service. The next step is a description of a representative of the selected group, taking into account different aspects, such as age, salary, social status, friendships, etc.
So-called "yellow post-it notes” can be used for filling of the empathy map – although this method is frequently perceived as a game, it might be very helpful as it inspires a lot of ideas and gives people the freedom to make mistakes. Post-it notes also help later in selecting the most important and significant elements of the empathy map, which are to be considered in the offer.
Ethnographic interviews, observations, and surveys are other important UX-related tools, which help obtain specific information as well as carry out better analysis and interpretation. The objective here is to get as close to customers as possible and track their behavior, habits, and emotions.
A very important part of observations and interviews is our ability to be sensitive. The surveys should be carried out without influencing the behavior of the examined individuals so that the reliability of the results is not disturbed.
The "amateur" approach of the customers can frequently inspire new solutions. For instance, we might find out that the real desire of people who buy cosmetics is to be able to accept their bodies. Such a conclusion, based on an empathic approach, has been successfully used by the Dove brand in their campaigns for years.