In B2B we can do even better than “understanding” customer needs. We can “model” them. Use customer interviews to understand customers’ key outcomes. But don’t stop there. Ask how they measure these outcomes… and how good is “good enough.” Then create a model so you can test how they’ll react to any product design you imagine.
More in article, B2B Customer Needs: Predict the customer’s experience with modeling
In Level 1, you start with your ideas and launch products you think customers will want. In Level 2, you still start with your ideas, but “validate” them with customers. In Level 3, you start with customer needs, using divergent and convergent interviews. You uncover a full range of outcomes and only work on those customers care about.
More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 7).
This can super-charge your organic growth: Don’t let your R&D conduct any product development work without unbiased, unfiltered data on what customers do and do not want. Market Satisfaction Gaps—based on importance and satisfaction scores for customer outcomes—provide this. You’ll free up enormous resources by working on only what matters.
More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 13).
Avoid “technology push.” But should you just leave your technology quivering on the lab bench? Hardly. Conduct customer interviews without mentioning your technology. If customer outcomes match your technology… wonderful! Otherwise, look for different technology (for this market), or look for another market (for this technology).
More in article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).
Could customers help with a product as radical as iTunes or iPod? Sure. If you know how to ask. They’d probably be hopeless on solutions… but helpful on outcomes: access a broad range of music, instantly purchase music, transport music anywhere, purchase single tunes, store music on multiple devices, etc. These would be great insights for any solution-provider.
Read more in this article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth). Steve Jobs made a good point when he said “you can’t just ask customers for the next big thing.” The customers’ area of expertise is the “outcome”—what they want to have happen, not how it should happen.