The goal of Customer Discovery interviews is to validate or disprove your assumptions. This can be accomplished through two distinct phases:
There are several good reasons to combine the Problem and the Solution Interviews into a single interview: it saves time, you often only have limited access to your interviewees so you might as well take advantage of the time they will give you, or you want to get insight on the opportunity faster.
Haven’t developed the solution yet? That isn’t a problem. In fact, it is preferable as you will gain a LOT of valuable information from the interviews that will shape the solution and your marketing strategy. In this case, start with the Problem Interview and leave the Solution Interview for a time when you have the solution/product defined.
Customer interviews help to answer the following key questions:
In this blog post we will be discussing The Problem Interview.
You will not be asking them direct questions about your product, only the challenges they are experiencing that you expect your product will solve.
Exactly what information you’re seeking can determine how you go about gathering it. A telephone call or an in-person meeting is typically the best starting point, because they are personal and you can expand on topics as the conversation flows organically. However, if you’re trying to reach a remote customer or get a large number of responses, an online survey or email might be more appropriate. Surveys are helpful when you already know what questions to ask and you are looking for quantitative results. Interviews help identify which questions to ask.
Depending on the topic, interviews typically take 15 to 40 minutes, and focus on qualitative answers. You are trying to determine what you don’t know, so your goal is to keep asking until you understand “why?” You should aim to complete at least 12 interviews. Complete more interviews if you are still learning new, valuable information, or the information you have gained is inconclusive.
If customer feedback supports that the solution you’ve created likely will solve their problems, that’s great. But what if you could do even more? In addition to inquiring about your customers’ needs, make sure to ask them about their wants. You might find customers desire a feature that would only be a small addition or tweak to your product, but would then serve as a huge competitive differentiator in the market.
Don’t forget to ask what solution your potential customer is currently using, if any, to solve their problem. This is a great way to get an idea of which competitors are already in your space, and whether or not they’re adequately satisfying the needs of the market. Sometimes a competitor’s advantage might be entirely from being first-to-market, but customers would be open to an alternative if one was available.
Don’t feel intimidated by other businesses occupying the same niche as yours. If anything, their presence highlights a promising opportunity. If you can provide a more compelling brand, or provide better value, there may be an attractive opportunity here for you.
If customers are easy to find and contact for interviews, and are receptive to speaking with you, great! Chances are you will find it easier selling to them in the future.
Your customers will also tell you where they would expect to find your product advertised. Ask about what magazines, journals, or other publications they typically read. Inquire about which conferences or trade shows they attend or recommend you attending in the future. Asking your customers where they are currently getting their information and finding solutions to solve their problem will tell you where they will expect your product when it becomes available. Identifying the best channels through which to market and sell your product now will spare you hours of digging and testing later.
Prospective customers should be your direct source of information about how to develop, market, and deliver your product.
For more on Customer Discovery, check out How To Conduct Solution Interviews
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