Assessing How Well You Know Your Customers
I wrote a prior post on how to get started with Jobs to be Done by doing an interview. One way to quickly apply what you learned is a quick-and-dirty assessment of why people purchase your product. Afterward, you will understand with greater resolution the struggling situation people are in and the progress they are trying to make when they pull your product into their lives.
After a bit of preparation, all you need is about four hours and a partner for the interviews.
- One of the pair will lead the interviews; the other is tasked with deep listening, ensuring you capture a complete story and asking the interviewee to explain any vague statements or ambiguous language the lead interviewer misses. (“What did you mean when you said, ‘It needs to be “easy”?’”) Take notes but to allow yourselves to focus on the interviewee, not note-taking, ask the interviewee if you can record the call.
- Identify the three interviewees described below and arrange a 60-minute telephone interview with each. It is possible an interview could run as short as 30 minutes. To be safe schedule 75 minutes in your calendars. This will provide you at least 15 minutes to jot down insights after the interview. If possible arrange the interviews on the same day and schedule at least 60 minutes at the day’s end to debrief all of the interviews.
- The Jobs to be Done framework is about people’s lives. Be curious and treat each interview like a conversation. Try to discover when the interviewee first had the thought they needed to solve a problem or dilemma. Then connect the dots from that time, to when they purchased your product, to whether the product helped them (or did not help them) make the progress they sought.
- Interview one current customer — someone who has purchased your product in the past 30 to 90 days and used it. Apply the same basic approach you applied to your practice interview in this interview and the next two interviews.
- Interview one former customer — someone who has quit your product or service recently. You may want to ask these additional kinds of questions, building on the basic approach: What caused you to say today is the day to quit? What happened to make you quit? How did you figure out what to do next? What are you doing next? What changed from when you originally discovered and purchased [the product]?
- Interview one top customer — a frequent user of a SaaS product, as one example, or interview one customer of a competitor. You may want to ask these additional kinds of questions, building on the basic approach: Why do you use [the product]? What causes you to say, when I am doing this, I use it? What are you struggling with in [the product]? What is good about [the product]? What is bad? What else have you considered or tried?
- During the debrief and discussion, with your interview partner at the end of the day, highlight the critical insights from your notes. For each interviewee summarize as best you can: The situation the interviewee was in when they noticed they were struggling; what different and better outcome they sought; what steps they took to discover and purchase your product; why they took those steps; what progress in their life they hoped to make when they purchased your product; and what competed along the way to help them realize their desired outcome? Consider whether the steps in each of the three stories are similar or different.
Reflecting on the interviews, what did you know already? What did you discover that surprised you? What topics do you want to learn more about? What action steps can you take next?
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels. This exercise is based on the Jobs to be Done framework co-architected by Clay Christensen and Bob Moesta and contributions to the framework shared by Des Traynor on the Disruptive Voice podcast.
Updated September 17, 2022