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The best ways to do customer discovery

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

It’s very rare that you’ll see a business operating the same way as initially intended by the founders. At the heart of every company is the customer and without iterating or pivoting your idea, it’s unlikely that you’ll have an optimised user model.

This is where customer discovery comes in. It may sound hard, tedious and like you’re constantly cold calling, but it can be quite a riveting experience. Having the opportunity to get in potential clients' faces and ask questions about their problems is a constant learning journey and is the most effective way you can grow your business.

Let’s talk about the best ways to go about it, and what you could do with the data:

The Process

Similarly, to any science experiment, it begins with a hypothesis which in many cases is the reason you’re working on your idea. When doing customer discovery, you should be getting as much information as you can about the problem you’re solving, and what the current user experience is.

The aim is to understand the key pain points and why a solution hasn’t been found yet/ become effective. This can only be done by actively speaking with the people you want to buy from you and designing a solution around them.

Cold Calling

Yes, we all hate getting them and the chances of a sale are around 3% (at best). However, if you go in with the intention of just asking people about their bad experiences (and not trying to sell!) you’ll find that a lot more people are willing to speak to you.

The first thing you’ll need to do is establish credibility. Before you start it’s vital that you research the person and what resonates with them. What’s their background, what problems are they likely to face, and can they afford your service?

When you make that call, you’ll have around 7 seconds to establish credibility and make sure they don’t hang up. Then the key is to get them talking and for you to understand as much as possible. Make sure to avoid using closed questions (yes or no answers) and allow them to speak as freely as possible. You’re trying to paint a picture of that individual to later help you design your service, so any information is good information.

Meeting them in-person

Some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with clients came from just walking into their business, buying something, and striking up a conversation. There’s a technique where if you do something for something, they’re more likely to engage with you or listen to what you’re offering. This works amazingly, especially if you’re B2B because it becomes so easy to walk up to them and begin talking. This conversation can then naturally be pivoted to whatever information you need!

Other ways of meeting people physically could be:

· Finding them on the street

· Business/ networking events

· Host your own (garden parties, BBQ etc)

Launch your MVP

You know what your ideal customer struggles with and why it happens. At this point the short-term focus shifts back to you and what your solution is. If it’s technical, such as a mobile or web app you can use online software to start mapping out what it will do.

Whether that’s a beta version on TestFlight or just some Figma/ AdobeXD designs, you should be able to demonstrate how your solution works and solves the problem identified. From here, it goes straight back to testing with your users.

Focus Groups

If you’ve really narrowed down the product that you want to launch, focus groups can be one of the most effective ways at refining feedback. Digital services, usually take around 30-40 minutes, and have around 8-12 participants. The idea is to give your product to them and watch how they interact, use, and navigate around your technology.

You should be constantly asking questions, whilst maintaining a distance from getting involved or directing them on how to use your app or digital service. When collecting feedback, questions should be made open and allow users to discuss their experience with using your idea. Some questions that are useful to consider are:

· Did it solve their challenges?

· What improvements would make it better?

· Would they be willing to pay for it?

At this point, feedback is used to iterate on your idea and make necessary improvements such that lean next focus group can have a better user experience/ journey.

In conclusion

The best companies are constantly speaking with users and refining themselves to meet demand. If you have to repeatedly iterate and test over 10x, it shouldn’t worry you and instead be encouraging that your business is adaptable.


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