The best way to identify and rank customers\u2019 needs is to get your keister out of the office. Sitting in headquarters and trying to think like a customer won\u2019t work, even if you bring in customers for focus groups. \n\nColumbia Business School Professor Emeritus of Finance and Economics Larry Selden notes that what people say in focus groups doesn\u2019t necessarily reflect what they really do. Sometimes customers don\u2019t realize they have an unmet need, says Selden. For example, British Airways (BA) realized that many of its customers who were senior business executives were driven primarily by a desire to get a deal done, resulting in a need to rest and save time.So British Airways tailored its services to help these executives get a decent night\u2019s sleep onboard and get them on their way as quickly as possible after landing. On certain overnight flights, the airline serves them dinner before they board, giving them extra shut-eye during the flight. First-class passengers can change into a complimentary sweat suit and hang their business suits in a closet before climbing into a flat bed. In the morning, they can zip through customs, shower at the BA club in the airport and head to their meetings, bypassing the need to check into a hotel. It\u2019s unlikely that any of these executives would have expressed a need for a sweat suit. Selden insists that only by immersing yourself in the customer\u2019s experience will you be able to observe such hidden needs.