Discovering customers and users gives your team access to authentic first-hand impressions about their current world. This helps your team develop a deep understanding of behaviors, needs, emotions and preferences relating to relevant situations your project scope. Great insights can be generated by customer interviews, customer observations and DIY (= Do it yourself). You will achieve the best results when you combine the three approaches. Obviously, the time and money you spend to discover your customers should bear relation to the project scope.
Discovering the world of customers and users will help your project team to come up with ideas that are based on new and surprising insights. The challenge here is, however, that interviews and observations need to be well planned. Since interviews and observations are time-consuming, we usually can't talk to or observe too many people. We need to pick the "right" people and create a diverse sample in order to gain relevant insights.
Keep in mind that not every question you may have is relevant for this stage. Don't pitch your ideas. Listen and try to understand the today's world of your customers.
It's not easy to have useful conversations with customers. Make sure that your interviewers are trained in advance and ask the right questions.
If your level of knowledge about the world of your customers and users is high, you can clarify matters of detail within the scope of the Discover Phase (2 weeks).
If your level of knowledge about the world of your customers and users is low, we recommend to conduct a field study prior to the Discover Phase in a separate project or, in rare cases, extend the Discover Phase.
The following activities represent the core steps to discover customers:
Decide on the customer & user situation you want to gain a better understanding of to scope your activities. Identify suitable and "diverse" interviewees or places where you can observe your customers & users and prepare your interview / observation guideline. Decide on channels, products & services you use for your DIY activities and schedule your next steps.
Conduct your research according to your observation / interview guideline and capture results (sound, pictures, videos). Also, start your DIY activities.
Document the results in a visual way and share them with your team (e.g. customer card). Analyse your target groups together and define your primary target group(s) with a "Job(s) to get done" statement for your Business Model.
Q & A
Shall I conduct interviews or observe customers & users? It depends on the access to your customers and users and if you have the chance to observe them in the situation relevant to you with as little interference as possible. If this is no problem, social roles, workarounds, subconscious behaviors and emotions are often easier to observe than to enquire about. In the best case, try to combine both methods.
How many interviews / observations are enough? It’s all about getting a "professional" gut feeling and not finding the ultimate truth. That’s why the amount of interviews / observations depends on you and your findings. Stop your research when your learning curve starts to flatten out. Experience has shown that this happens after less than 6 cases per customer segment.
How do I find the right interviewees? There are many options to identify potential interview partners. Discuss different options in your team based on your defined scope. Possible ways to find interviewees are: Ask your sales and / or support team to provide contact details, check your customer management system and identify e.g. customers that became non-customers during the last year, use your personal network to identify potential interviewees and ask colleagues to do so, go to places, conferences or events where your customers or customers from your competitors might be and try to make contacts, etc.