The 2015 edition of the pan-European startup contest Idea Challenge sees an increase in variety and internationality. The series of events re…
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While we explored the metrics to optimise your product development last week, we will have a look on the improving your customer communication in this week's HowTo. First things first, you may wonder what customer development is all about. Customer Development is a four-step framework used for:
When talking about Customer Development, the biggest challenge for your early stage tech startups is to do the customer discovery and validation right in order to help you get through the three consecutive stages towards a successful business:
Customer development isn’t sales! You don’t have to pitch your product [or] explain why it is great.
And of course the key to doing it right lies in communication: talk to your customers, understand their needs and wants and make product decisions in accordance with the results you find along the way. Unfortunately, this is easier said then done, so here are some rules you should consider.
1. Listen and respect the point of view of your customers
Customer development isn’t sales! You don’t have to pitch your product, explain why it is great and how it will solve all the problems in the world. Instead, listen to what your customers have to say and be flexible in meeting their needs. This might help you build a better product, find a better angle for your pitch, or a better explanation of the true problem your customers are facing.
2. Understand first, verify later
Assumption is the mother of all failures! As important as it may be to verify all your assumptions, the first thing to do is to ask questions that allow you to understand your customers’ behaviour, instead of looking to verify what you think about it.
3. Use the Mom Test
Don't forget the mom test; Photo credit: Flickr, http://bit.ly/1E8NCya
How much of what you believe about your customers is wrong? Generally, pretty much, and we’ve got some more bad news here: people are going to tell you what you want to hear, especially if you want to hear it. This is why you have to shape the conversation such that you ask questions so good, that even your mom will not be able to lie to you. So what should you ask your customers about in order to pass the mom test?
And finally, remember that the burden of truth is on the observer so it’s up to you to get the information straight. We recommend you to check out The Mom Test, a book written by Rob Fitzpatrick, if you want to learn more on the topic.
4. Avoid talking about your product
This is extremely useful, especially in the early interviews. Pre-product conversations are very valuable, so try to postpone talking about the product for as much as you can. If potential customers are genuinely curious, you can attempt to turn them into beta testers later in the process.
5. Listen to the signals
Conversation is a skill, rather than a process, and you’ll become better at it as time goes by.
Conversation is a skill, rather than a process, and you’ll become better at it as time goes by. Listen to the signals your customers give you in order to identify potential opportunities and always pay attention to:
When identifying these signals, use anchor questions to go into specifics and get them to talk more about it. These are questions and remarks such as “Interesting… tell me more about that” or “Can you help me better understand?”
6. Make informed decisions with your team
The trick to making decisions as a team is to share insights and decide together. You should talk about things, build common knowledge, and discuss what’s not clear. This will not only help you make informed and assumed decisions, but it might also bring some extra questions that need to get answered in your next interviews.
7. Use the Product / Market Prism
These points were discussed at MVP Academy; Photo credit: How To Web
Last but not least, consider the six points below when making product decisions:
In the end, you don’t get to tell your customers what their needs are, but they don’t get to tell you what your product is. What’s important here is to shape your product and design your entire business around customer behaviour. And if you’re approaching this with a mindset of a learner trying to understand your customer, then you’re doing it right!
Salim Virani, Founder of Decision Hacks and Founder Centric, kindly shared these insights with the MVP Academy Class of 2015 in a workshop that was organised as part of the pre-accelerator program. Inventures.eu is closely following the evolution of the teams and will get back to you soon with more valuable insights & news from Bucharest.
This article is brought to you in cooperation with HowToWeb. Inventures.eu is a mediapartner.
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