Mar 12, 2021

Podcast 18: How To Know What Your Customer Wants

Podcast 01 on what you can learn from the design startup show

Episode Transcript:

Hey design starters, today, I would like to talk about how you can figure out what problem is worth solving in your industry, your business, your design industry, and, you know, generally what challenges are your customers facing and how do you know that? So many advice you may have heard is to just ask yes.

Asking is very direct, very straightforward. It is available in a certain sense yet. I have tried that many times and I found out that it doesn’t mean. You know that you even your customers know themselves? Well, it doesn’t mean that they know what they want and it doesn’t really mean they know what they need.

So even if they can think of it and know what their frustrations are, and you can just ask them the question, they may not be able to give you a direct and immediate answer that. It’s really true. And they don’t mean to fake it. They don’t mean to, to be dishonors about it. Uh, but there’s just natural, like humans where not every one of us knows exactly what we need and what is good for us.

So, if you are facing this, it’s the same as what I’ve been facing for a long time. And what I’ve been trying to do in the beginning of my business is to ask my customers again and again, and to ask, Hey, you know, what feedback do you have? What improvements can I make? And. And this has become more of a formality and kind of official to ask, but I don’t find that it’s very useful after trying for, for, for a long time, because you got to know that your clients are also busy people.

It doesn’t mean that they’re sitting there waiting for you to ask this and then they would want to jump at it and tell you what to improve. Most times they have more things to care about. In their business, rather than looking to help you improve many times. If anybody wants to give you the advice, you know, a lot of people like to give advice and they will just give it to you even without you asking Andy.

And you know, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ask, but. Asking is one way, but it may not be the best way, depending on the number of clients you have, depending on how you ask. Right? So if you don’t know what problems your clients are facing over these five years of my business, I found out that one really good way is first before you ask them anything is to brainstorm.

Really just to sit down, not doing any other thing, focus on brainstorming based on your experiences with them so far, right? Least on what brainstorm and list down what, uh, the problems that you think they are having. So, so it starts with the assumptions. All right. And it’s still hypothetical at the beginning, correct?

So you have all these. Points of problems. For example, for me, when I first started that brainstorm session with myself and checking in with my gut on what, what problems they are facing, I put down things like number one, there’s no dashboard for them. They can’t see what are their task pending task and what.

They need to action on. They only rely on email and, you know, things may just get lost in tracks. And that is one assumption that I had. The other assumption is they needed some way to mock up the design artwork. And without that, it’s hard to articulate what is it that they want to change in the artwork?

So this, this is one of the, in the list. So that’s what I did. I put them down. And not everybody finds that all of this point is a problem. For example, for dashboard I’ve been using Asana. And what happens is there’s only like out of, let’s say about 10 customers that we have only one is using. So they are just too busy to use that.

So in this way, that’s what may not be a big problem, right? And you don’t even need to ask them if you ask them, they probably say, yeah, it’s good to have. And yeah, it means solve their problem. They may just logically give that kind of answer you, you know, if you, if you, if you ask them what they want, they just want everything faster, everything cheaper and everything better.

Right. So, You know, just plenty asking wouldn’t help. So what I did was just to put this down and, and next to that column, off that list of problems, I put a column of solutions. So for example, dashboard problem, right? I don’t have a customized dashboard. I have the set of solutions on the right side. The column and on the right side.

And I can put in things like number one, customize our own. Number two, maybe we purchase from a third party software, for example, a center or maybe something else. Um, number three, you know, I can just use Google sheets just to put them down, you know, and just use that to solve the problem first, which is something that I’m really intending to use.

And I think that may come up well. And of course, I’ll let you in on how it goes. So, you know what I’m saying? It’s just problem. And then problem is assumption, right? Assume problem. And then the kind of like proposed solution that that’s brainstorm there. And then I just put them down then. I will test each of the solutions.

Right. For example, when it comes to the dashboard, I’m about to test on this Google sheet. If it works, I’ll put down another column. So that three columns, the third column will be the testing, whether I have tested it and whether it works. So, so after I’ve done that, and I have assumptions of whether it works, then there’s a time and an Austin, because they’ve really tried it out.

So for example, if it’s a dashboard or a Google sheet, I sent it to them and, and, and they tried it a few days, a few weeks. That’s the time when I asked them is, Hey, so I’ve made these improvements. What are you asking me? Whether you asked me to make these improvements or not. Right. But at the customers have taught me to do that or not.

I have made it. So, you know, you just be proactive with this. You tell them that you have made it. And I did. This does help you save time. How do you think these are helping you? So I think this kind of ask is a different ask. It’s not too old. And th that, you know, they are not guided in any way and know where to start from to answer you.

And th they feel like it’s an obligation to answer you by if you give them this kind of, um, uh, some assumed, assumed problem assumed hypothetical. MVP minimal viable solution and the MBS maybe. And they try it out. They really use it for real. Then that’s when they can give you that feedback. And obviously you don’t give them something that’s expensive.

You don’t take too much time and money to produce. Google sheet is good. Uh, Sinai is free, you know, you can try all these things and they don’t take you much time to start. That is where it starts from. Right. And then you let them try it, then you ask them. So when you ask them that, then that’s when they will be able to give you feedback because they have already tried it.

So definitely they will let you know, if what you have been doing is serving them well or not. Right. So I find that this works better than just simply ask them. So what do you think I can do better to help? Let me know. You know, when you start to ask this and you ask them to let you know it. It kind of, you know, kind of need them to do the work rather than you are doing the work.

So you wouldn’t want that them to do that. And it becomes like a survey to check in on them, but surveys can only really work if you have a lot of clients, maybe even 5,200, at least. And you may be there already at this point in time or not. It depends, but. Even if you have hundred a thousand of clients, not all of them, you know, until your, your, your survey in the best way and most honest way possible.

So I feel that using a quick hypothetical, uh, cheap, um, something that doesn’t, it’s not expensive to start with would be the best way to do that. So what I’m trying to say is, You know, you just have to know what is a good solution. Your customers also may not know what is a good solution. You wouldn’t want to listen to all customers.

Some customers have good feedback, even if it’s a good feedback, it may not work as well for your company because you have other customers too, to think about. So one customer’s feedback may not cater to all customers that you have. Right. So what I’m trying to say is. To know the problem that’s worth solving does not mean that you need to go to every customer, ask them the question of, Hey, how can I help and listen to all of them?

You need to also do your due diligence of, uh, brainstorming a list of assumptions, assumed problems, assume solutions testing, and then back to asking them. So that feedback will be most valuable.