Customers Decoded: How to Find Out What They Want

Unravel the mystery of customer needs with the process of customer discovery. It's your key to building a business that can quickly scale sales, in less time and with little money.

Customers Decoded: How to Find Out What They Want
Photo by Microsoft 365 / Unsplash

Customer discovery is like a detective's pursuit for clues. It’s about learning your customers' likes and dislikes, their needs, and the problems they're grappling with.

Businesses gain these insights by engaging directly with potential customers, asking the right questions, and understanding their concerns.

This essential process shapes how you tailor your products or services, sometimes even prompting a complete change in your business idea.

Ready for a quickfire lesson? Let's go...

The Golden Rules

The first rule of customer discovery is to focus on past behaviour. Don't ask about future behaviour as people usually tell you what they think you want to hear.

To maximise efficiency, you need concrete facts. So, for example, instead of asking your founder friends in the group chat:

"Would you pay £x for y?"

Ask, "How much did you pay for y the last time you bought it?"

People are creatures of habit. Past behaviour is as close to fact as you'll get.

Here's a list of things to bear in mind as you embark on customer discovery:

  1. No pitching, just listening.
  2. Dig into the difficulties
  3. Always understand the ‘why’.
  4. Discover the current solution.
  5. Repeat the process for deeper insights.

This approach will also give you a few vital insights:

1. If they answer, 'I never bought y.' This could be a sign that they aren't your customer (likely) or that 'y' isn't a problem that needs solving.

2. If they have an answer other than 🤷🏾‍♀️, you're getting closer to the barrier to entry that might be in your way: Existing alternatives.

Understanding past behaviour allows you to do more with less and focus your intention in the most fruitful directions.

So, the next time you're chatting with a customer or crowdsourcing perspective, DON'T ask about future behaviour. Invite them to tell you about the past.

Here's an explainer from Techstars that will inspire you for sure...

Questions to Ask

Guide your customer discovery process with these insightful questions:

  1. Share a story about the last time you faced [problem context].
  2. What was the hardest part about this problem?
  3. Why was that so hard?
  4. How do you currently solve this problem?
  5. Why isn’t that solution quite right?

Analysing past behaviour can unlock critical insights. If a person hasn’t bought a product similar to yours, they might not be your ideal customer, or perhaps the problem your product solves isn't pressing enough.

Recognising existing alternatives helps you identify potential obstacles to your product's market entry.

Customer discovery is not a sales pitch. It's a journey of understanding customer pain points and needs.

Follow this guide, and your ideal customer will reveal themselves, allowing you to take the guesswork out of your businesses before you invest too much time or unnecessary costs.

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