Customer Discovery Journey

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Let’s take a look at the first step of customer discovery. You’re going to be living this for the next couple of weeks if you’re doing this for real. Phase 1 is you state your hypotheses and you draw the business model canvas. And again, you put the canvas on the wall, you and your team get around and put up yellow stickies. But the next step is you get out of the building. You’re going to test the problem. You’re going to test your understanding of the customer’s problem or need, and you’re going to figure out how to build the prototype. The next thing is you’re going to test the solution, and you’re going to test the solution if you’re on the Web by building a low fidelity and then a high fidelity prototype, and you’re going to again test your understanding of the customers’ needs and whether your solution matches this. 

And this match, again, is called product market fit. That’s the holy grail for entrepreneurs. Am I building something that people can’t get enough of or are just willing to open up their wallet’s and empty it in front of you to get their hands on? And the fourth phase in customer discovery is you verify your pivot. Do people agree that you’re solving a high value problem or need, and do you understand your business model enough to start test selling, which is the next step in customer validation. Now, what’s really depressing to most entrepreneurs is the answer most often the first time you go through this is, “Heck no.” And what’s worse is, “Well, they kind of, sort of like…” Well, kind of, sort of is not a startup. Kind of, sort of is people have been nice to you. The only time you know that you have something that’s worth investing your time and money in is if people are literally trying to force their money on you or can’t use your product even in its buggy, uninitialized form enough. This is what you’re looking for. And if you haven’t found it yet, that’s why the customer development process is an iterative circle. 

It assumes you will be going through this multiple times. And when you finally, finally think you do have something that matches customer needs, you get to the next step, which is customer validation.
Minimum viable product. What to start from? Discover 6 fundamental steps you have to go through when you start your MVP. This is a MUST watch video for Product Owners. From theory to practice. In our previous videos we have discovered what does MVP stands for, what types of MVP are there, in the market and where MVP lays in the whole product pipeline. We are good with the terms, now let’s move on to how you can build an MVP. 

Step #1 comprehensive research. Before you start you have to get an insight to problem and solution. You’ll have to answer a number of questions like: “what is your market?”, “who are the people who face the problem?” ‘how you can help them to resolve it?” Let’s pick the major questions you will have to answer. Which exact problem your MVP is meant to solve? You have to think about the value your product brings your customers and how will they benefit from it. For this, you can use the value proposition canvas: click the card above to see how it works. Which sort of users will be interested in your product? You have to understand who will buy your product. Certain categories of users have their specific needs and specific requirements that can help you to improve your product and make it as user-friendly as possible. What are the existing solutions to this problem? Competitors research can help you to identify the pitfalls and avoid them in your product. Step #2 identify MVP features and prioritize them.The next step deals with features you want to have implemented in your product. You have to come up with your product vision and list the features you want to see there. Once you have this done, you need to prioritize them. For this, we use the MoSCoW approach. We take all of the tasks and features we have and divide them into must-haves, should-haves, could-haves and won’t-haves. Watch our next video where we will describe the MoSCoW approach in more detail. At the MVP stage, you’re likely to have one top-priority feature, that conveys the the product core value. Step #3 MVP approach selection. All you have to do at this step is to decide with which type of MVP you will be moving forward. This can be a no-product, product-mockup, or a one-feature MVP. Your choice should be based on the idea to be validated and the available resources you have. Step #4 success criteria identification. Before you start building your MVP, you’ll have to know how will you evaluate it? How will you understand is your MVP a success or a failure? This question should be answered in advance. We advise you to come up with the list of actionable metrics and success criteria you’ll be tracking. We will discuss the most valuable key metrics to track in our next video. Step #5 prepare a story map. 

Story mapping is an essential step for you to list your features and to come up with the product backlog. Story mapping consists of 4 fundamental components: Goals > Activities > Job or User Stories > Tasks. Goals underlie the pivotal vision of your product. To achieve the goals you have to complete the activities. Activities, in turn, require the implementation of tasks and features that can be turned into job or to user stories. With the story map, you get a convenient tool to identify pains and gains associated with your product. Step #6 MVP launch. Now it’s time to launch your minimum viable product and get your first user feedback. Remember to track the key metrics to evaluate the results of your MVP. Remember that a negative result is also a result. The key aim of MVP is to test your product with the real users. And even if your MVP appeared to be unsuccessful, this is a good sign for you to pivot and focus on resolving different kind of customer problems.

So obviously the big challenge is you don’t have any customers yet. So you can’t just call up someone and say, “Hey, can we chat about this”? Another challenge is that you can talk to prospective customers, the thing is right now, everyone is kind of overwhelmed with zoom meetings since in person events are canceled. And quite honestly, not everyone always tells the truth in customer interviews. So, you know, even though those are some challenges, I think that there are more opportunities out there than you may expect for talking to customers if you don’t have any customers. So we’re going to call this covert customer discovery. And what covert customer discovery does is give you a clear picture of pains that people are experiencing. And it’s also going to give you great voice of customer data for the future, and specifically for any copy that you may want to write. Another thing is, you’re going to learn what people are already paying for and where you may be able to niche in. Doing covert customer discovery is a simple process, but it can be a little bit time consuming. 

The first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to find out where your customers are hanging out online. It’s going to be any multitude of places. You may already have some in mind, that you are already a part of, but if you do not belong to any yet, try searching for Facebook groups, private Slack groups, scour the internet for forums, look through Twitter threads. Heck you can even go through Instagram comments I guess if you wanted to, and professional groups are another great place to find out problems your audience is having. So once you have this list, the next thing you’re going to do is you’re basically going to become a professional lurker. You’re going to go through all of these groups and you’re going to really listen to what people are talking about. Taking notes during this phase is great. 

Find out what the common themes that people are talking about are, how people are describing the problems that they’re having, how people are answering questions, if they’re making recommendations, if they’re commiserating with other problems, like what, what is the general vibe? What are they talking about? What are their big problems? And once you’ve done this for all of the groups that you’re a part of for a while, you’re going to have a pretty clear picture of your audience’s problems. And with this information, you can start developing some product ideas. I know we all tend to gravitate towards software because it’s pretty sexy at the moment, but don’t be afraid of thinking outside of the software product box and maybe figuring out if a course or digital products or a webinar can solve their problems. Once you find some common themes between all the groups, you’re going to be well set up to figure out potential product ideas. Anyways, in this video, we covered the challenges of customer discovery without customers, how covert customer discovery in some ways can be advantageous to the traditional in person, customer interview, and some tactics to get you started on figuring out what problems your audience may have and how to brainstorm some potential solutions to those problems.

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