QUESTIONS TO USE WHEN VALIDATING CUSTOMER PAIN POINTS
These are the steps to effectively validate pain points:
- Elaborate the problems you are willing to solve, one by one. While doing that, put them in context so that the customer can relate to them
- Ask them how to show you how they currently solve each problem
- Let them talk about what they love and hate about it
- Ask which other tools/approach they are using
- Ask how did they find out about the current solution
- Ask them how much they pay for it
- Ask them what happens if they fail to solve each problem
The questions above are extremely powerful and informative.
By asking them how they solve the problem today and what they love and hate, we will get to know the pain and gain points for the jobs they are willing to do. It might be that customers don’t actually do these things or they don’t care at all about the problems you are willing to solve. That’s cool, you have learnt that they are not the right customer segment. The good news is that you haven’t spent much money till now.
By asking them what tools or services they use today, we will learn how big is the problem. Because if they haven’t bothered exploring or finding a solution, it means the problem is not really a problem.
By asking where did they hear about the current solutions they are using, we will get useful info on the marketing channels that we can use later, when the product is ready.
By asking about how much they spend for the solution, we will get an anchor for future pricing.
And finally, by asking what happens if they fail, we will learn again how big is the problem, and understand if the target segment is the right one.
After you have described the problems you are willing to solve with your business idea, here are a few good questions to ask during customer development interviews, and why.
– Could you talk me through last time that happened? This should be the very first question. It’s even better if the interview is conducted in context (so in the location where the problem occurs) so that customers can show us how they do it. By watching someone doing a task we will see clearly where the problems and inefficiencies are, not what customers think about that.
– What are the implications if you fail to solve the problem? This will help understanding the size of the pain of a problem, very helpful to prioritise customer segments.
– What else have you tried? If customers haven’t looked for ways of solving the problem already, there is a good chance that they won’t bother about what we are going to launch.
– What’s wrong with what you’ve tried already? Useful to explore weaknesses in competitors proposition.
– How much are you currently spending to solve the problem? This will allow to explore competition and how much customers are paying for them in order to have a price anchor.
– Is there anything else I should have asked? This is a must have, and should always come at the end of the problem list. People want to help us, we should just give them an excuse. The objective is to explore what we still don’t know.
Final must have question: Who else should I talk to? Recruiting customers for interviews might be a pain, and might take time especially if we are targeting a market which is quite new for our background. Every interview should finish with this question, as it will create a snowball effect and we will find it much easier to recruit target customers to speak with. If they don’t do intro, take anything they have said with an extra grain of salt (read more about how to recruit customers to interview).
One last point about customer suggestions.
Certain customers just won’t resist from telling us how their dream service would work and suggest new features.
So let’s get this straight: it’s our job is to define how to solve customers’ problems.
As a rule of thumb, we should never accept feature requests or let customers dictate our roadmap. However, feature requests are still a big opportunity to learn.
So in case someone tells us how they would see the service working, we should take a deep breath, and use this opportunity to dig beneath the underlying need and understand why they requested it by asking:
– “Why do you want that?”
– “What would that let you do?”
– “How are you coping today without that feature?”