I’m sure you’ve heard of customer development• Just “talking to people” is generally a waste of time • You pitch and sell • They lie, meander, request features, and give opinions• Customer development is about turning those into useful conversations • Certain problems are best untangled by talking • What you ask and how you ask it matters
Customer development is useful for...• Every enterprise sales company• Figuring our pricing, workﬂow, and marketing language• When the data says something and you don’t fully understand it • They aren’t converting and I don’t know why • They ARE converting and I don’t know why!
Every startup is different• This seems to work for us and we’ve seen good results • But for you it’s an experiment • It may not be relevant for what matters to you right now • Feel free to hack these techniques• Terms & conditions • You have to let us know how it goes! (We get paid in feedback.)
Where could 5 customer interviews get you? Actual phrases used by customers. (Great for positioning & copywriting.) A way to group interviews and analyse them as a team
“I want more readers on my blog.”Your customers are unanimous in their request.Problem validated?
Your customers are full of shit• They don’t know if they are lying • But they are• They are telling you a symptom • Not the root problem • Symptoms are often bundled with a product/feature suggestion• Recognising symptoms and ﬁnding root causes is your bread & butter
‘Five Whys’ does root cause analysis• Normally used to ﬁnd the origin of your process problems • Start with your server crashing and ﬁnd the source of the problem • Repeat • Invest appropriately at all problem layers• In CustDev, can also be used to unpack your customer’s supposed problem • Helps map out your assumptions about their problem • Find additional layers at which you can add value and/or make money
“I want more readers on my blog.”Everyone workshop: 5 minutesWhy is this a problem? Why might a business want more readers?Write each potential reason down on an index card.
Topic map• Group the cards in a way that makes sense to you. • Designer types call this a Cart Sort• When you have groups that make sense, name the clusters. Those are your topics. • Name topics so you can bring up in a conversation which won’t lead towards a conclusion or your underlying problem hypothesis. • Ask yourself if the underlying problem assumption was true, would they bring it up? If it wasn’t true, would they not bring it up? This makes a good topic. • e.g. Problem cards say “fame” & “hype” so the group name is “personal motivation.” • So you can say, “tell me about your personal motivation” and then they can volunteer fame or hype themselves. Or not. This is how you learn if it’s really a pressing problem.
You need to write it down. Why?• Highlights invalid signals from both yourself and customers • Learning you’re wrong is actionable• Customers’ exact wording tells you how they imagine the problem and what they search for• Pivot smarter, without re-doing custdev• Choose what you need to learn, and THEN how to measure it • Focusing too early on speciﬁc answers leaves value on the table
Visual reference icons• Emotions point to opportunities and problems• Alternate solutions inform customer problems, workﬂow, channel, and pricing• Customer problems and barriers warn you of possible conversion friction• Over time, add new icons you ﬁnd helpful This technique was developed by Ian Collingwood for usability studies, and repurposed for custdev by Sal, who also added know-how shared by Cindy Alvarez.
Forming good questions• The mom test • If your mom would lie to you to avoid hurting your feelings, its’ a bad question• Ask about them (and what they have already done), not their opinions (about what they would do)• Ask to show not tell
Some strong questions• Please show me how you... Please tell me what... I’m trying to learn... Please help me understand... Can I ask why? Can you please tell me more about that?• When does this happen? How recently/fre- quently does this come up? Can you think of other times this comes up? Who else is affected by this?• How do you decide? What is the process you go through? Give me a detailed play by play. What do you do before/after you do this?• If this were free... how long to install and who needs to approve it?• Other people have to told me that...• What else do you wish you could be doing? If you had a magic wand, what would you change? What else should I have asked?
Exploring• If you hit a strong signal, explore around it.• Problem? Who else?• Barrier? What next? What have other people tried? Friends Say Complaints THINKING & FEELING Clients Say Boss says HEARING SEEING SAYING Friends Say Topic Map DOING Praise
Pricing• Custdev isn’t for closing sales • But sometimes you’ll close them as a side-effect• It’s about learning HOW to sell• Don’t ask if they would buy it for X • Ask about their budget, what they spend on their current solution, etc• It’s okay to ask about money• Don’t forget implementation & training costs!
Who here spends time or money on their blog?Form into groups of 3 around a bloggerTry to group up with the blogger you know least well
Practice interviewing• Pairing is good. One interviewer, one notetaker.• Use the icons as your record notes.• The order doesn’t matter, but bring up each topic during the interview. “So tell me about topic.”
There’s a reason they’re called index cards• Find all your cards that resonate with each topic. Discuss.• Which topics had supporting signals? Which didn’t? Which problem hypotheses were validated or not?• Find all your cards that have a speciﬁc symbol. Discuss.• Learn anything new?
Retrospective • How was it relevant to your biz?• What isn’t relevant at all to your biz?• Any big challenges we missed, glossed over, or otherwise trivialised?
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