Traditional customer interviews have long been the bedrock of market research and product development. They are the most used method for gathering insights, and for good reason. These interviews offer a direct line of communication to your customers, allowing you to ask questions, gather feedback, and refine your product based on their responses.
However, in an era of ever-evolving customer expectations, sticking solely to traditional interviews can be a risky endeavor. While they have their merits, these interviews often fall short of providing a complete understanding of customer needs and motivations.
Enter the jobs-to-be-done framework, a different approach to customer interviews that is gaining traction across industries. In this blog post, we'll explore why traditional customer interviews, while valuable, have their limitations, and why jobs-to-be-done interviews are emerging as a superior method for truly comprehending your customers and designing products that win in today's competitive market.
1. Shifts Focus from Solutions to Customer Goals
Traditional customer interviews often revolve around questions like, "What features do you want in our product?" While this approach may yield valuable insights, it tends to trap both the interviewer and interviewee in a solution-centric mindset. Customers may suggest features based on their current experiences or preferences, which might not align with their true needs.
Jobs-to-be-done, on the other hand, encourages a shift in perspective. It urges us to ask, "What are you trying to accomplish?" rather than "What do you want in a product?" This subtle yet profound shift focuses on understanding the ultimate goals or jobs that customers are trying to achieve. Let's illustrate with an example.
Imagine a software company that develops project management tools. In a traditional customer interview, they might ask users what specific features they want in the software. Responses could range from "better task tracking" to "integration with other apps."
Now, applying jobs-to-be-done, the interviewer will delve deeper, asking users about what they are trying to accomplish. A project manager might respond, "I need to ensure all tasks are completed on time to meet project deadlines."
By identifying the need as meeting project deadlines, the software company can explore a broader range of solutions, such as automating task prioritization, facilitating collaboration, and providing advanced reporting. These solutions directly address the customer's goal, rather than being limited by their feature requests.
2. Reveals All of the Customer Needs
Traditional interviews often capture surface-level feedback, missing out on the intricacies of the customer journey. Customers might not think to mention needs if they're not directly asked. Jobs-to-be-done, however, breaks down the customer's journey into discrete steps in a job map, uncovering needs at each stage. Thus, a complete set of needs is gathered.
Continuing with the project management software example, jobs-to-be-done would involve understanding each step in managing a project. This might include setting objectives, assigning tasks, tracking progress, and assessing outcomes.
The interviewer can then systematically collect customer needs for each of these steps. Furthermore, since the focus is on the job and not features or functionality, jobs-to-be-done doesn’t require as many customer interviews before a complete set of needs is captured.
3. Enables Effective Prioritization and Innovation
One of the most significant advantages of jobs-to-be-done is that it allows customer needs to be prioritized effectively. Traditional interviews may generate a laundry list of feature requests, leaving product teams overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. In contrast, jobs-to-be-done categorizes needs based on their importance in completing the job and their current satisfaction level.
Returning to our project management software scenario, the company may have gathered a comprehensive list of customer needs. By using a prioritization matrix, they can identify which needs are both high in importance and low in satisfaction. These are the critical pain points that require immediate attention.
For instance, if they discover that project managers struggle the most with aligning tasks with project goals, this becomes a top priority. The product team can then focus their efforts on developing innovative solutions to address this need, potentially giving them a competitive edge in the market.
In conclusion, traditional customer interviews are valuable but often fall short in providing a holistic picture of customer needs. The jobs-to-be-done framework, with its customer goal-centric approach, step-by-step analysis, and effective prioritization, offers a superior method for understanding your customers. By adopting this approach, you can gain deeper insights, identify unmet needs, and develop products that align with your customers' core objectives. This shift from a solution-focused mindset to a customer-centric one is the key to delivering value to your customers.
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