AIM Archives - Tag: customer interview

Always separate customer “needs” into two buckets.

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As explained by Tony Ulwick in What Customers Want, the term customer “needs” can be confusing. It’s best to separate what customers want into outcomes (their desired end-result, or the “what”) and solutions (your answer to their need, or the “how”). Keep your interview focused on their outcomes, not solutions. If they offer a solution, simply ask, “What would that do for you?” Poof: You’re back into outcome space where you want to be.

More in article, Discovery Interview Blunders that Frustrate Your Customers.

In B2B customer interviews, silence really is golden.

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In the best B2B interviews, you ask “What other problems do you see?” or “What would your ideal world look like?” The customer leads the interview—not you—because you never know what they’ll say next. But allow some silence: Don’t fill the void by saying, “for example, would it help if…?” Your patience may be rewarded with a customer need you would never have heard otherwise… one that could lead you to develop a blockbuster product. Silence—and the thinking it allows—can indeed be golden.

More in article, Discovery Interview Blunders that Frustrate Your Customers.

Here’s when you don’t want to look too smart.

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When we train B2B professionals to interview their customers, we tell them to be the student and let the customer be the teacher. After all, customers know their world best and love to demonstrate their expertise… so practice humility. Afraid customers will think less of you if you don’t show how smart you are? Sorry, but I’ve got news: They aren’t thinking of you. They’re thinking of themselves and their ideas. So be a brilliant conversationalist. That’s someone who thinks what the other person says is fascinating.

More in article, Discovery Interview Blunders that Frustrate Your Customers.

“What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?”

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Jeff Bezos believes this is a more important question than “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” In the world of new product development, we find that customer outcomes—desired end results—tend to be more stable over time than supplier solutions. So instead of validating your solutions during customer interviews, seek to uncover and understand the most important, unmet customer outcomes. Then pursue these stable targets with your solutions.

More in video, New Product Blueprinting—the Future of B2B Innovation

If your new product isn’t easily findable, it could be “game over”

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Research shows that it’s often “game over” for your product if a competitor’s product has a better Google search ranking. The key is good search engine optimization (SEO), and the key to that is predicting which keywords your prospects will search for. Here’s a tip: In your front-end voice-of-customer interviews, capture customers’ comments verbatim. Then use their language—which is unlikely to change—in your SEO strategy.

More in article, B2B Product Launch: How to get it right

Seek more from your B2B customer interviews.

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What else is there besides hearing customers’ needs? Impress them so they’ll want to do business with you. Incorporate your insights into a value calculator to optimize pricing. Use their precise interview language on your website to improve SEO. Uncover unspoken needs in a post-interview customer tour. Understand their next best alternative. Never stop learning.

More in article, You Already Answered 4 Questions, but… Correctly?

The greatest danger in customer interviews is hearing what you want to hear.

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Your new product development should start where it ends: with the customer. When you take your “pride and joy” hypothesis to customers and ask their opinion, two bad things can happen: 1) They tell you what they think you want to hear. 2) You hear what you want to hear. Start by uncovering their needs, not testing your pre-conceived notions.

More in article, Give your Hypothesis the “Silent Treatment (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth).

The best way to hear (the customer) is often to see.

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One of our best innovations started as an experiment. In 2004 I projected my notes during a customer interview. The customer loved it, the meeting went far longer than expected, and we haven’t looked back since. Sure, customers can correct your notes this way, but our biggest discovery was that customers own what they create and can see.

Read more in the article, The Best Customer Interviews Use a Digital Projector (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).