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The Tactics of
Conducting Customer Discovery
Phase I
Table of Contents
Goals of the Program
Purpose
Program Overview
Program Teaching Objectives
Teaching Methodology
Starting with the ‘Solution’ or ‘Value Proposition’
Starting with Empathy
Program Structure
How to GENERATE ASSUMPTIONS
Module: Developing a Customer Segment ‘Point Of View’ (POV)
Module: Developing Value Proposition Assumptions
How to DEFINE EXPERIMENTS
Module: Experiment Mapping
How to FIND CUSTOMERS
Module: Reaching Potential Customers
If you are operating in a multi-sided market, make sure to develop a list that includes both
USERS and PAYERS.
How to GAIN CUSTOMER INSIGHT
Module: Developing your Interview Plan
Module: Conducting Customer Interviews
How to ANALYZE Feedback
Module: Mapping the Customer Archetype
Module: Developing a Problem Recognition Matix
Module: Developing a Low Fidelity MVP
NOTES
Goals of the Program
Purpose
The reduction in technology costs over the last few years have empowered many aspiring entrepreneurs
to develop a new product or service distributed through web and mobile channels in record time. What
once took many months to develop can now be ready for launch in just a few weeks. Despite all of this,
and perhaps partly because of it, many aspiring entrepreneurs are quick to forget the value of actually
talking to potential customers before building their own great idea and forego the incredible amount of
insight they can gain from doing so. Engagement with real potential customers is of fundamental
importance in the first phase of Steve Blank’s Customer Development methodology, called Customer
Discovery.
Customer Discovery simply begins with seeking to gain empathy -- that is, developing a deep
understanding of a customer’s needs and motivations.
Program Overview
This program will take an actionable approach to teaching the best practices of the first phase of
conducting customer discovery -- which is testing a problem and assessing its importance -- through
active learning. This program takes the theory of customer discovery and breaks it up into digestible
chunks that any aspiring entrepreneur can apply.
Many people understand the fundamental importance of “getting out of the building” and the incredible
insights that can be gained from actually talking to potential customers - yet still struggle with the tactics
of doing so. People are often blinded by their own ‘idea/solution bias’, while others are simply seeking
out what they want to hear; as opposed to listening and recognizing common patterns. Others simply
don’t know the tools to use or tactics to deploy. The focus of this program is to give individuals an
opportunity to build their own skills and become proficient in the art of conducting customer discovery.
Program Teaching Objectives
● How to generate assumptions about your customer segment and value proposition
● How to define and execute pass/fail experiments to validate or invalidate these assumptions
● How to find and reach out to potential customers and develop a customer contact list
● How to actually talk with potential customers and surface insight about their needs and
motivations.
● How to map customer segment personas and begin to recognize patterns that emerge during
your discovery process
Teaching Methodology
This program is very actionable. Through collaborative group activities, and keeping a focus on
developing relevant and practical deliverables, individuals build the skills necessary for future attempts
at customer discovery. For all intensive purposes, we assume that the opportunity is large enough for the
participant to warrant further discovery.
Starting with the ‘Solution’ or ‘Value Proposition’
Starting with Empathy
Program Structure
Team Forming
Each individual has the opportunity to give a 90 second pitch. Through a voting process, we then narrow
it down to the top 8-10 concepts. Then teams will be formed and you’ll dive into group activity work.
How to GENERATE ASSUMPTIONS
Module: Developing a Customer Segment ‘Point Of View’ (POV)
Deliverable Time Activity Type
Comprehensive list of
assumptions about your team’s
customer segment
25 minutes Group
Customer Segment Persona
First, segment your customers into as many specific personas as possible. Include specific character
traits, motivations, demographics, behaviors and most importantly, available budget to come up with at
various customer segment personas.
If you are operating in a multi-sided market, make sure to include customer segment personas for both
your USERS and PAYERS.
Job
Next, use the Customer/Job POV Mad Lib example below to generate a set of assumptions about the
jobs your customer segment personas are trying to get done. This can be the tasks they are trying to
perform and complete, the problems they are trying to solve, and the needs they are trying to fill.
is trying
because
Gains
Now, use the Customer/Gain POV Mad Lib example below to generate a set of assumptions about the
benefits your customer expects, desires or would be surprised by. This includes functional utility, social
gains, positive emotions, and cost savings.
feels
because
wants/needs
because
Pains
Lastly, use the Customer/Gain POV Mad Lib example below to generate a set of assumptions about the
negative emotions, undesired costs and situations, and risks that your customer experiences or could
experience before, during, and after getting their
jobs done.
feels
because
wants/needs
because
Module: Developing Value Proposition Assumptions
Deliverable Time Activity Type
Comprehensive list of
assumptions about your team's
value proposition
25 minutes Group
Value Proposition Mad Libs
Begin your value proposition mad lib with the phrase “how might we create” or “how might we
eliminate”, followed by one of your team’s ‘pain’ or ‘gain’ assumptions you previously generated. What
you and your teams come up with as a solution is either a ‘gain creator’ assumption or ‘pain reliever’
assumption.
create
=
eliminate
=
How to DEFINE EXPERIMENTS
Module: Experiment Mapping
Deliverable Time Activity Type
Comprehensive list of
experiments
15 minutes Group
Generating qualitative pass/fail tests
Generating quantitative pass/fail tests
Turning Assumptions into Experiments
How to FIND CUSTOMERS
Module: Reaching Potential Customers
Deliverable Time Activity Type
Develop a Customer Contact List 1 hour Group
Before you begin your customer discovery journey you need to begin identifying who you should start
speaking with to validate or invalidate the set up assumptions you have generated. You may initially
begin broad, then hone in on specific customer segment personas over time as you collect more
anecdotal evidence. Below are a few methods you can use to target an initial batch of people to talk
with.
● Set up Google Alerts to be notified when someone is writing about a related topic. Follow up
and attempt to contact the author directly.
● Employ ‘social listening’ tactics to see who is talking about the topic. One great tool is Topsy -- it
can provide insight into a world of conversations.
● Read industry related blogs to see who is commenting on a particular subject and join in on the
conversation. See who engages with you, they will probably be willing to speak with you.
● Use Linkedin to target individuals who work in the industry of your concept and message them.
Make sure they are at least a 2nd or 3rd degree connection
● Blogging allows you to share what you’ve learned, your opinions, or are currently doing, and is a
great way to build an audience -- and subsequently, potential customers.
● Utilize video content marketing as a means to attract people to you. Specifically, a Wistia video
embedded in a Launchrock page can be a powerful way to get a people excited enough to share
their email address with you and be willing to speak about their experiences in more depth.
If you are operating in a multi-sided market, make sure to develop a list that includes both USERS and
PAYERS.
How to GAIN CUSTOMER INSIGHT
Module: Developing your Interview Plan
Deliverable Time Activity Type
Develop an Interview Plan for at
least (3) individuals from your
team’s Customer Contact List
25 minutes Group
Before you meet anyone for any interview, you need to take the time and get prepared. Below are a few
actions you should spend time on before speaking with anyone - people value their time, so don’t waste
it.
Abstracting Your Assumptions
Prepare for the interview by generating a list of questions based on your customer segment
assumptions. Then, abstract your questions to disguise what you would would otherwise ask directly.
This may sound counterintuitive, but you don’t want to ask questions in a manner that can influence a
potential customer’s response.
Developing Your Interview Plan
● Conduct research on the industry - if you are not a domain expert, you are going to have to take
the time to become one. Search for industry reports, establish Google alerts, read scholarly
articles, etc.
● Conduct research on the company - don’t look foolish upon arrival and not knowing anything
about the company. Take the time to read a company’s website.
● Conduct research on the person - at the very least, take the time to read the person’s public
Linkedin profile and any biography listed on their company’s website. Additionally, you never
know what will pop up from a Google search.
● Starter Questions - make sure to have a few opening questions to build rapport. This can
commonly be something you discover about the company or person during your research.
● Conversation Prompts - asking “yeah, but why?” or “that’s interesting, but how?” are great
fallback questions if you feel the conversation stalling.
● Ask for additional contacts - you need to develop a reference story ... and write a highly
professional email getting right to your ASK (which is an interview :)
Developing Your Approach
Conducting an interview with people you’ve never met before can be a little bit intimidating the first
time you try. Thus, the importance of practice! Begin by practicing your opening approach with other
teammates and overtime you will become more comfortable.
Sample Interview Questions
● “Can you tell me the story about that?”
● “And then what happened?”
● “Why [or how] did you do that?”
● “What did you love [or hate] about that?”
● “If you could wave a magic wand, what would it be like?”
● Tell me about an experience when ...
● What are the best/worst parts about ...
● Can you help me understand more about ...
Module: Conducting Customer Interviews
Deliverable Time Activity Type
(4) Customer Discovery
Interviews
90 minutes Pairs
Do and Don’t
Actually Talking with Customers
The first step of conducting customer discovery interviews is about gaining empathy and surfacing
insight. There is simply no better way to gain an understand of potential customers above and beyond
“getting out of the building” and actually talking to your customers. In the beginning this can be an
incredibly uncomfortable experience but will ultimately prove to be the most effective if done right.
This is an exercise in self-control, because most people ask a question when they already have the
answer in mind that they want to hear -- particularly if they are consumed by the genius of their own
idea. They are not really asking questions to learn and gain empathy, they just want help validating what
they themselves have already assumed as true and great -- most always their own envisioned product or
solution to a problem they think they understand, but really don’t.
Existing Markets
When operating in an existing market and the problem is well understood, you can use a Problem
Presentation .... resegmentation ....
What’s a Problem Presentation?
A problem presentation is designed to elicit information from customers. It works incredibly well in
existing markets when the problem is well understood. Innovative solutions can help save time, reduce
costs or deliver a better experience.
The presentation summarizes your assumptions about customer “pains” and “gains” and about how
they're solving the problem today. It can also offer some potential solutions, to test whether your
assumptions are correct.
The first step is to describe your assumed list of problems, pause and ask the customers what they think
the problems are, whether you're missing any problems, how they would rank the problems, and which
are must-solve rather than nice-to-solve. You've hit the jackpot when the customer tells you she will do
anything to solve the problem.
Unknown Markets
Alternatively, if you are operating in a new market or working with a disruptive technology, Customer
Discovery is not about conducting a focus group. Simply asking customers “Tell me, what is your biggest
pain point?” Or, “What do you think of this solution?” is not Customer Discovery. This is a big idea and
important to understand, because people don’t always understand their own problems. You are looking
for specific stories about their day to day experiences that can surface insight about their true needs and
motivations and how their life will be different once they begin using your product or service.
Then, you have to really listen and become tuned-in for ‘customer doorways’ to probe further into.
‘Customer doorways’ can be a bold statement the person makes, an inconsistency between what they
say or do, silence, or sudden, animated gestures. When you notice one of these actions, go through that
‘customer doorway’ and probe further by asking how and why. Essentially playing completely naive can
surface some great insight about whether or not you think this person will turn into a real customer.
● Listen - This may seem obvious but it is surprising how much we do not listen to the people we
are trying to solve problems for. Forget about yourself and be completely optimistic and open to
listening to the needs of your customers.
● Seek Stories - High level conversations won’t inspire you to be able to ideate towards a
remarkable solution. Seek in depth stories about a users experiences that touch their emotions.
● Ask “Why” AND “How” - As you are listening to stories and hear them express a point, always
dig deeper and ask why. You may have heard of the ”5 Why’s” technique which is ultimately if
someone expresses something asking why 5 times will usually get them to express a deeper
need which they may not have understood initially.
Demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in delivering a solution that will eliminate “pains” or
create “gains” for the customer. Being as authentic as possible when engaging with someone will allow
them to reveal their true needs and motivations. We all know the feeling of what it is like to be
interviewed and how different we are than a genuine conversation with a friend.
Additional ways to gain empathy
● Immersion - There is simply no better way to gain empathy for a problem a customer
experiences than actually living through their experience.
● Observation - One straightforward observation technique is to actually ask the customer to
physically demonstrate to you how they are currently solving a particular problem. Additionally,
you can have them draw the process flow of how they are currently conducting a specific job.
In closing, conducting customer discovery is truly an art -- which implies you must practice if you want to
be any good. You can study its theory forever, but until you put it into practice, you will never
understand its intricacies. Customer Discovery is an intuitive process and relies on an individual's ability
to recognize common themes expressed amongst the people they speak with and to possess the self
control, objectivity, and realism to be honest about whether or not you can fulfill one of these learned
needs or motivations. The mastering of this art is what makes or breaks a great entrepreneur.
How to ANALYZE Feedback
Module: Mapping the Customer Archetype
Deliverable Time Activity Type
(4) Customer Archetype Maps 25 minutes Group
Include specific traits, motivations, demographics, behaviors and most importantly, the customer’s
available budget.
Mapping a ‘Day in the Life’ of a Customer
Being able to map of the day of a customer is really powerful and can provide some great insight
● Quotes/Defining Words
● Thoughts & Beliefs
● Actions & Behaviors
● Feelings & Emotions
Developing an Empathy Map -- interviews
Visit http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/themes/dschool/method-cards/empathy-map.pdf
Affinity Map -- observation
Observation - what actually happened, versus what one interprets happens -- then asking what they are
doing.
‘Clumping’ areas ...
Pattern Recognition
● What was the most memorable and interesting story?
● What did the person care about the most? What motivates him or her?
● What were they frustrated by the most?
Module: Developing a Problem Recognition Matix
Module: Developing a Pattern Recognition Matrix
● Problems -- what problems did you hear or observe?
● Emotions
● Processes
● Roles
● Tools
● Contexts
● Needs/Motivations
Determining the problem types can be difficult, and you might be tempted to overstate a problem to
validate your own desired solution. Ask yourself the following questions to determine which problem
type the customer actually experiences.
● What was the most memorable and interesting story?
● What did the person care about the most? What motivates him or her?
● What were they frustrated by the most?
Connecting all of your anecdotal evidence -- Bob Dorf
Scientists observe data, notice patterns, develop hypotheses, and then test those hypotheses. Pattern recognition is
only a step along the way to developing hypotheses about the underlying cause. -- Chris Dixon
Deliverable Time Activity Type
Problem Recognition Matrix 25 minutes Group
A problem recognition matrix is a great tool that can help you quantify
Customer Types
Customer analysis starts with understanding for what types of customer to approach. Chances are that
several people in a number of categories have problems that your product can solve.
● End Users
● Influencers
● Recommenders
● Economic Buyers
● Decision Makers
● Saboteurs
Problem Types
● Latent
● Passive
● Active/Urgent
● Vision of a Solution
●
Sample Problem Recognition Matrix
Customer Name: John Doe
Customer Type: Economic Buyer
Type of Problem/Need Must-Have Nice-to-Have
Latent Problem/Need
Passive Problem/Need X
Active/Urgent Problem/Need
Vision of a Solution
Module: Create an Aggregate Customer Discovery Scorecard
The customer discovery scorecard is an aggregate of all customer interviews conducted and provides a
sense of whether there’s enough customer excitement to warrant further motion. Additionally, it can
help you spot trend and recognize patterns.
The analysis should help gauge whether the right people were contacted and whether enough
earlyvangelists candidates were identified.
● Excited and Urgent Need
● Business-Impact
● Work-around
● 120 day
● Key Decider
Module: Developing a Low Fidelity MVP
Deliverable Time Activity Type
Low Fidelity MVP 60 minutes Group
Low Fidelity MVP
A low fidelity MVP exists to test and assure that customers care about the “pain” and “gain”
assumptions you developed earlier. They can be built by those with and without knowledge of computer
programming. For a list of tools and resources to develop your team’s MVP please visit here.
Viability Experiments
Wizard of Oz
PPC
Concierge Tests
NOTES
Include an empathy map template for mapping out the customer archetype
POV statements
HMW
Suggestions from Kahlil Corazo
Actual examples (eg, experiences in getting the right customers to interview, kinds of MVP's). Actually
getting out of the building would be worthwhile. Boards (eg, one of variant of the business model
canvas) have been helpful in putting focus on team output.
Additional Suggestions from Kahlil Corazo
● How do you get people to interview? Especially for B2B, this is very geography and field specific,
and at least in my case, an interview takes at least a week to setup, with lots of rejections and
false leads.
● Preparing for interviews
● Conducting interviews
● Capturing data (note taking) and figuring it out
● Using PPC and landing pages to validate interest or get early adopters
● Doing a Wizard of Oz
● Test selling (and finding a repeatable and scalable way to get customers
● Lean Startup books seem to be written for teams, but as you've probably noticed, there are a lot
of single founders. It seems to be a different game for single founders.
+ = Product

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Customer Discovery Skills

  • 1. The Tactics of Conducting Customer Discovery Phase I
  • 2. Table of Contents Goals of the Program Purpose Program Overview Program Teaching Objectives Teaching Methodology Starting with the ‘Solution’ or ‘Value Proposition’ Starting with Empathy Program Structure How to GENERATE ASSUMPTIONS Module: Developing a Customer Segment ‘Point Of View’ (POV) Module: Developing Value Proposition Assumptions How to DEFINE EXPERIMENTS Module: Experiment Mapping How to FIND CUSTOMERS Module: Reaching Potential Customers If you are operating in a multi-sided market, make sure to develop a list that includes both USERS and PAYERS. How to GAIN CUSTOMER INSIGHT Module: Developing your Interview Plan Module: Conducting Customer Interviews How to ANALYZE Feedback Module: Mapping the Customer Archetype Module: Developing a Problem Recognition Matix Module: Developing a Low Fidelity MVP NOTES
  • 3. Goals of the Program Purpose The reduction in technology costs over the last few years have empowered many aspiring entrepreneurs to develop a new product or service distributed through web and mobile channels in record time. What once took many months to develop can now be ready for launch in just a few weeks. Despite all of this, and perhaps partly because of it, many aspiring entrepreneurs are quick to forget the value of actually talking to potential customers before building their own great idea and forego the incredible amount of insight they can gain from doing so. Engagement with real potential customers is of fundamental importance in the first phase of Steve Blank’s Customer Development methodology, called Customer Discovery. Customer Discovery simply begins with seeking to gain empathy -- that is, developing a deep understanding of a customer’s needs and motivations. Program Overview This program will take an actionable approach to teaching the best practices of the first phase of conducting customer discovery -- which is testing a problem and assessing its importance -- through active learning. This program takes the theory of customer discovery and breaks it up into digestible chunks that any aspiring entrepreneur can apply. Many people understand the fundamental importance of “getting out of the building” and the incredible insights that can be gained from actually talking to potential customers - yet still struggle with the tactics of doing so. People are often blinded by their own ‘idea/solution bias’, while others are simply seeking out what they want to hear; as opposed to listening and recognizing common patterns. Others simply don’t know the tools to use or tactics to deploy. The focus of this program is to give individuals an opportunity to build their own skills and become proficient in the art of conducting customer discovery. Program Teaching Objectives ● How to generate assumptions about your customer segment and value proposition ● How to define and execute pass/fail experiments to validate or invalidate these assumptions ● How to find and reach out to potential customers and develop a customer contact list ● How to actually talk with potential customers and surface insight about their needs and motivations. ● How to map customer segment personas and begin to recognize patterns that emerge during your discovery process Teaching Methodology
  • 4. This program is very actionable. Through collaborative group activities, and keeping a focus on developing relevant and practical deliverables, individuals build the skills necessary for future attempts at customer discovery. For all intensive purposes, we assume that the opportunity is large enough for the participant to warrant further discovery. Starting with the ‘Solution’ or ‘Value Proposition’ Starting with Empathy Program Structure Team Forming Each individual has the opportunity to give a 90 second pitch. Through a voting process, we then narrow it down to the top 8-10 concepts. Then teams will be formed and you’ll dive into group activity work.
  • 5. How to GENERATE ASSUMPTIONS Module: Developing a Customer Segment ‘Point Of View’ (POV) Deliverable Time Activity Type Comprehensive list of assumptions about your team’s customer segment 25 minutes Group Customer Segment Persona First, segment your customers into as many specific personas as possible. Include specific character traits, motivations, demographics, behaviors and most importantly, available budget to come up with at various customer segment personas. If you are operating in a multi-sided market, make sure to include customer segment personas for both your USERS and PAYERS. Job Next, use the Customer/Job POV Mad Lib example below to generate a set of assumptions about the jobs your customer segment personas are trying to get done. This can be the tasks they are trying to perform and complete, the problems they are trying to solve, and the needs they are trying to fill. is trying because
  • 6. Gains Now, use the Customer/Gain POV Mad Lib example below to generate a set of assumptions about the benefits your customer expects, desires or would be surprised by. This includes functional utility, social gains, positive emotions, and cost savings. feels because wants/needs because
  • 7. Pains Lastly, use the Customer/Gain POV Mad Lib example below to generate a set of assumptions about the negative emotions, undesired costs and situations, and risks that your customer experiences or could experience before, during, and after getting their jobs done. feels because wants/needs because
  • 8. Module: Developing Value Proposition Assumptions Deliverable Time Activity Type Comprehensive list of assumptions about your team's value proposition 25 minutes Group Value Proposition Mad Libs Begin your value proposition mad lib with the phrase “how might we create” or “how might we eliminate”, followed by one of your team’s ‘pain’ or ‘gain’ assumptions you previously generated. What you and your teams come up with as a solution is either a ‘gain creator’ assumption or ‘pain reliever’ assumption. create = eliminate =
  • 9. How to DEFINE EXPERIMENTS Module: Experiment Mapping Deliverable Time Activity Type Comprehensive list of experiments 15 minutes Group Generating qualitative pass/fail tests Generating quantitative pass/fail tests Turning Assumptions into Experiments
  • 10. How to FIND CUSTOMERS Module: Reaching Potential Customers Deliverable Time Activity Type Develop a Customer Contact List 1 hour Group Before you begin your customer discovery journey you need to begin identifying who you should start speaking with to validate or invalidate the set up assumptions you have generated. You may initially begin broad, then hone in on specific customer segment personas over time as you collect more anecdotal evidence. Below are a few methods you can use to target an initial batch of people to talk with. ● Set up Google Alerts to be notified when someone is writing about a related topic. Follow up and attempt to contact the author directly. ● Employ ‘social listening’ tactics to see who is talking about the topic. One great tool is Topsy -- it can provide insight into a world of conversations. ● Read industry related blogs to see who is commenting on a particular subject and join in on the conversation. See who engages with you, they will probably be willing to speak with you. ● Use Linkedin to target individuals who work in the industry of your concept and message them. Make sure they are at least a 2nd or 3rd degree connection ● Blogging allows you to share what you’ve learned, your opinions, or are currently doing, and is a great way to build an audience -- and subsequently, potential customers. ● Utilize video content marketing as a means to attract people to you. Specifically, a Wistia video embedded in a Launchrock page can be a powerful way to get a people excited enough to share their email address with you and be willing to speak about their experiences in more depth. If you are operating in a multi-sided market, make sure to develop a list that includes both USERS and PAYERS.
  • 11.
  • 12. How to GAIN CUSTOMER INSIGHT Module: Developing your Interview Plan Deliverable Time Activity Type Develop an Interview Plan for at least (3) individuals from your team’s Customer Contact List 25 minutes Group Before you meet anyone for any interview, you need to take the time and get prepared. Below are a few actions you should spend time on before speaking with anyone - people value their time, so don’t waste it. Abstracting Your Assumptions Prepare for the interview by generating a list of questions based on your customer segment assumptions. Then, abstract your questions to disguise what you would would otherwise ask directly. This may sound counterintuitive, but you don’t want to ask questions in a manner that can influence a potential customer’s response. Developing Your Interview Plan ● Conduct research on the industry - if you are not a domain expert, you are going to have to take the time to become one. Search for industry reports, establish Google alerts, read scholarly articles, etc. ● Conduct research on the company - don’t look foolish upon arrival and not knowing anything about the company. Take the time to read a company’s website. ● Conduct research on the person - at the very least, take the time to read the person’s public Linkedin profile and any biography listed on their company’s website. Additionally, you never know what will pop up from a Google search. ● Starter Questions - make sure to have a few opening questions to build rapport. This can commonly be something you discover about the company or person during your research. ● Conversation Prompts - asking “yeah, but why?” or “that’s interesting, but how?” are great fallback questions if you feel the conversation stalling. ● Ask for additional contacts - you need to develop a reference story ... and write a highly professional email getting right to your ASK (which is an interview :) Developing Your Approach
  • 13. Conducting an interview with people you’ve never met before can be a little bit intimidating the first time you try. Thus, the importance of practice! Begin by practicing your opening approach with other teammates and overtime you will become more comfortable. Sample Interview Questions ● “Can you tell me the story about that?” ● “And then what happened?” ● “Why [or how] did you do that?” ● “What did you love [or hate] about that?” ● “If you could wave a magic wand, what would it be like?” ● Tell me about an experience when ... ● What are the best/worst parts about ... ● Can you help me understand more about ...
  • 14. Module: Conducting Customer Interviews Deliverable Time Activity Type (4) Customer Discovery Interviews 90 minutes Pairs Do and Don’t Actually Talking with Customers The first step of conducting customer discovery interviews is about gaining empathy and surfacing insight. There is simply no better way to gain an understand of potential customers above and beyond “getting out of the building” and actually talking to your customers. In the beginning this can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience but will ultimately prove to be the most effective if done right. This is an exercise in self-control, because most people ask a question when they already have the answer in mind that they want to hear -- particularly if they are consumed by the genius of their own idea. They are not really asking questions to learn and gain empathy, they just want help validating what they themselves have already assumed as true and great -- most always their own envisioned product or solution to a problem they think they understand, but really don’t. Existing Markets When operating in an existing market and the problem is well understood, you can use a Problem Presentation .... resegmentation .... What’s a Problem Presentation? A problem presentation is designed to elicit information from customers. It works incredibly well in existing markets when the problem is well understood. Innovative solutions can help save time, reduce costs or deliver a better experience. The presentation summarizes your assumptions about customer “pains” and “gains” and about how they're solving the problem today. It can also offer some potential solutions, to test whether your assumptions are correct. The first step is to describe your assumed list of problems, pause and ask the customers what they think the problems are, whether you're missing any problems, how they would rank the problems, and which are must-solve rather than nice-to-solve. You've hit the jackpot when the customer tells you she will do anything to solve the problem. Unknown Markets
  • 15. Alternatively, if you are operating in a new market or working with a disruptive technology, Customer Discovery is not about conducting a focus group. Simply asking customers “Tell me, what is your biggest pain point?” Or, “What do you think of this solution?” is not Customer Discovery. This is a big idea and important to understand, because people don’t always understand their own problems. You are looking for specific stories about their day to day experiences that can surface insight about their true needs and motivations and how their life will be different once they begin using your product or service. Then, you have to really listen and become tuned-in for ‘customer doorways’ to probe further into. ‘Customer doorways’ can be a bold statement the person makes, an inconsistency between what they say or do, silence, or sudden, animated gestures. When you notice one of these actions, go through that ‘customer doorway’ and probe further by asking how and why. Essentially playing completely naive can surface some great insight about whether or not you think this person will turn into a real customer. ● Listen - This may seem obvious but it is surprising how much we do not listen to the people we are trying to solve problems for. Forget about yourself and be completely optimistic and open to listening to the needs of your customers. ● Seek Stories - High level conversations won’t inspire you to be able to ideate towards a remarkable solution. Seek in depth stories about a users experiences that touch their emotions. ● Ask “Why” AND “How” - As you are listening to stories and hear them express a point, always dig deeper and ask why. You may have heard of the ”5 Why’s” technique which is ultimately if someone expresses something asking why 5 times will usually get them to express a deeper need which they may not have understood initially. Demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in delivering a solution that will eliminate “pains” or create “gains” for the customer. Being as authentic as possible when engaging with someone will allow them to reveal their true needs and motivations. We all know the feeling of what it is like to be interviewed and how different we are than a genuine conversation with a friend. Additional ways to gain empathy ● Immersion - There is simply no better way to gain empathy for a problem a customer experiences than actually living through their experience. ● Observation - One straightforward observation technique is to actually ask the customer to physically demonstrate to you how they are currently solving a particular problem. Additionally, you can have them draw the process flow of how they are currently conducting a specific job. In closing, conducting customer discovery is truly an art -- which implies you must practice if you want to be any good. You can study its theory forever, but until you put it into practice, you will never
  • 16. understand its intricacies. Customer Discovery is an intuitive process and relies on an individual's ability to recognize common themes expressed amongst the people they speak with and to possess the self control, objectivity, and realism to be honest about whether or not you can fulfill one of these learned needs or motivations. The mastering of this art is what makes or breaks a great entrepreneur.
  • 17. How to ANALYZE Feedback Module: Mapping the Customer Archetype Deliverable Time Activity Type (4) Customer Archetype Maps 25 minutes Group Include specific traits, motivations, demographics, behaviors and most importantly, the customer’s available budget. Mapping a ‘Day in the Life’ of a Customer Being able to map of the day of a customer is really powerful and can provide some great insight ● Quotes/Defining Words ● Thoughts & Beliefs ● Actions & Behaviors ● Feelings & Emotions Developing an Empathy Map -- interviews Visit http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/themes/dschool/method-cards/empathy-map.pdf Affinity Map -- observation Observation - what actually happened, versus what one interprets happens -- then asking what they are doing. ‘Clumping’ areas ... Pattern Recognition ● What was the most memorable and interesting story? ● What did the person care about the most? What motivates him or her? ● What were they frustrated by the most?
  • 18. Module: Developing a Problem Recognition Matix Module: Developing a Pattern Recognition Matrix ● Problems -- what problems did you hear or observe? ● Emotions ● Processes ● Roles ● Tools ● Contexts ● Needs/Motivations Determining the problem types can be difficult, and you might be tempted to overstate a problem to validate your own desired solution. Ask yourself the following questions to determine which problem type the customer actually experiences. ● What was the most memorable and interesting story? ● What did the person care about the most? What motivates him or her? ● What were they frustrated by the most? Connecting all of your anecdotal evidence -- Bob Dorf Scientists observe data, notice patterns, develop hypotheses, and then test those hypotheses. Pattern recognition is only a step along the way to developing hypotheses about the underlying cause. -- Chris Dixon Deliverable Time Activity Type Problem Recognition Matrix 25 minutes Group A problem recognition matrix is a great tool that can help you quantify Customer Types Customer analysis starts with understanding for what types of customer to approach. Chances are that several people in a number of categories have problems that your product can solve. ● End Users ● Influencers ● Recommenders ● Economic Buyers ● Decision Makers
  • 19. ● Saboteurs Problem Types ● Latent ● Passive ● Active/Urgent ● Vision of a Solution ● Sample Problem Recognition Matrix Customer Name: John Doe Customer Type: Economic Buyer Type of Problem/Need Must-Have Nice-to-Have Latent Problem/Need Passive Problem/Need X Active/Urgent Problem/Need Vision of a Solution
  • 20. Module: Create an Aggregate Customer Discovery Scorecard The customer discovery scorecard is an aggregate of all customer interviews conducted and provides a sense of whether there’s enough customer excitement to warrant further motion. Additionally, it can help you spot trend and recognize patterns. The analysis should help gauge whether the right people were contacted and whether enough earlyvangelists candidates were identified. ● Excited and Urgent Need ● Business-Impact ● Work-around ● 120 day ● Key Decider
  • 21. Module: Developing a Low Fidelity MVP Deliverable Time Activity Type Low Fidelity MVP 60 minutes Group Low Fidelity MVP A low fidelity MVP exists to test and assure that customers care about the “pain” and “gain” assumptions you developed earlier. They can be built by those with and without knowledge of computer programming. For a list of tools and resources to develop your team’s MVP please visit here. Viability Experiments Wizard of Oz PPC Concierge Tests
  • 22. NOTES Include an empathy map template for mapping out the customer archetype POV statements HMW Suggestions from Kahlil Corazo Actual examples (eg, experiences in getting the right customers to interview, kinds of MVP's). Actually getting out of the building would be worthwhile. Boards (eg, one of variant of the business model canvas) have been helpful in putting focus on team output. Additional Suggestions from Kahlil Corazo ● How do you get people to interview? Especially for B2B, this is very geography and field specific, and at least in my case, an interview takes at least a week to setup, with lots of rejections and false leads. ● Preparing for interviews ● Conducting interviews ● Capturing data (note taking) and figuring it out ● Using PPC and landing pages to validate interest or get early adopters ● Doing a Wizard of Oz ● Test selling (and finding a repeatable and scalable way to get customers ● Lean Startup books seem to be written for teams, but as you've probably noticed, there are a lot of single founders. It seems to be a different game for single founders. + = Product