There comes a time in an entrepreneur’s life when you need to draw a line in the sand and show your “baby” to the world. Below are some helpful tips for your first face-to-face interaction with your customer. (It is helpful to make sure you have at least a minimum viable product (MVP) or working prototype to show them.)
A couple of tips:
- Depending on the product, make sure you use a diverse user group to capture results. Parse the data and use this to your advantage. Group results by region, age, gender, etc. Look at globally combined results. Why? All of this assists you in nailing down your direction – should it be a narrow, local/regional play or do we have a global solution.
- Ideally bring three people to all of your customer visits. You need a moderator, video camera (record everything you can), take notes, and have a prepared survey tool. Remember you cannot be offended. Let them give it to you. Enjoy it! This is why we entrepreneurs exist. We love to see real customers giving real feedback. It’s amazing!
- When you arrive at your location, clearly introduce the team and their roles. Have them hold questions or direct them to the moderator. This keeps people focused on the product and stops “side” conversations. (Good for note takers and video.)
- Clearly articulate the structure of the meeting.
- First, is the usability study. You do not tell your audience what the “thing” is. You allow them to fumble their way through it. Hopefully you did a good job on the UX or UI discovery session and they get it right away.
- Second, is the in-service. You explain what your product is and does.
- Lastly, is the survey section and open Q&A.
- The usability study is essential. This is where you watch and hear how your customers interact with your product without YOU leading them to water. This is the meaty section of your customer visit. 90% of your results come from this exercise.
- During the usability study, they will ask you questions. DO NOT answer the question with why you developed your product or solved the problem. Instead, say to them, “I’m not sure. “Is it something you would like to have?” or ask “Why did you just do that?”
- During the in-service you get to chest pound if you want. (Being humble is the better approach, even though it kills you to watch them fumble through the usability study.) In my customer visits, I give the background to the product, why it looks or functions the way it does, then ask them why they did what they did. Remember, this exercise is all about them.
- Time. You should try to keep this exercise to less than 1.5 hours. Your first time around might go either way. In most cases it will error on the super long side.
As most of you are familiar with, customers don’t really know what they want. But passively they really do. They tell you what they like and dislike or how they interpolate a function through their facial expressions, body language, and how they physically engage the product.
When you get back to the think tank and you read the surveys, read the notes, and watch your video, and this amazing picture begins to unfold. You begin to see a pattern in the way they answered questions or responded in the video. Take these gems and create themes. When a theme is more pronounced, that is what you should pivot toward. Make the needed modifications to your product and then retest to the same group.
Once you have made the final modification, you should go back to the same user groups for what’s called a customer confirmation test. This verifies that you took what the customer most described as their true wants and corrected the product to their satisfaction. If you have…you are one step closer to delivering your beautiful baby to market!