How Well Do You Know Your Customer?

Anup MarwadiProductLeave a Comment

Because not being able to answer this question implies that you’re building a bad product, or even worse, an unsuccessful business.

Over the past few years, we’ve made tremendous changes in the way we build software. A large factor driving this change was direct feedback from our customers. Once we started gathering feedback, we started connecting the little dots to improve our processes. We work tirelessly to improve our processes and have talked about our philosophies in building quality Value Driven software before.

In this narrative, we’re going to focus on one of the most important elements to consider when building products.

Going back to our story, as we started getting more feedback from our customers, we started asking ourselves the same question, “How well do we know our customers?” and turns out that we didn’t know them much at all. We started going through numerous exercises to identify who our customers were and what made them happy or sad, or what their wishes were and what their habits were and so on and so forth.

The outcome was priceless. We started tailoring our products and processes to best cater to these new customer profiles and things started getting really better.

In our opinion, this is often this most overlooked element when building products. Knowing customers, their desires, their habits will change everything you know about product development. Too many people build software with themselves as their end customer i.e. they build what they know and think will stick with customers. Sadly, it doesn’t. The software often functions beautifully, but it just doesn’t fit the market or customer needs. If only they had reversed the process and focused on understanding the customer first, things would’ve been different, and expensive mistakes could’ve been avoided.

So take some time to ask yourself who your customer is when you build products. Give this customer archetype a name, and a set of traits. Make sure everyone building the product is fully aware of this customer’s likes/dislikes, motivations, passions. Iterate your product to ensure you overcome obstacles and leverage motivating factors to better assist this customer in each successive development cycle.

Here are a few great questions you could ask yourself to learn more about this customer:

  1. Who is our customer? [give him a name]
  2. What are our customers biggest needs? [name any 5]
  3. What are our customers biggest fears/dislikes? [name any 5]
  4. What makes our customer happy?
  5. What makes our customer sad?
  6. What is a typical day in the life of our customer?
  7. What will motivate our customer to use our product?
  8. What will cause the customer to stop using our product?
  9. What makes our customer trust a product?
  10. Can we find other unknown things that this customer would like that our system doesn’t currently offer? For e.g. if I am an avid reader of fiction novels, would I purchase a monthly audi0-book subscription? Or would I like to travel to countries where my fiction novels are mostly based out of? Or would I buy a reclining couch? Or a nice coffee mug? The opportunities are endless. This is a very overlooked aspect in understanding customer needs and needs a separate blog entry in itself, but this should be quite a start.

Hope this post has helped you in understanding the importance of knowing your customers. We look forward to hearing more from you.

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