After completing your personal discovery checklist, you can shift attention to potential customers for your venture. In our Venture Discovery process, the goals of customer discovery are divided into two phases of engagement, problem experience and solution experience. In the early phase of customer discovery, you are looking to validate assumptions you have as to whether your venture idea is something specific customers need, want, and are willing to purchase. These assumptions are mostly associated with what is sometimes called problem-solution fit. Are your assumptions about the customers’ current experience with the problem and solution requirements correct?
The goals of this early engagement are to learn as much as you can about the customers’ experience with the problem you are hoping to solve with your product or service. During this phase, you learn specifics about the frequency and degree of severity the customer experiences the problem, sometimes referred to as customer pain points. You also inquire about how the customer currently solves the problem, acquiring information about competing solutions, your competitors, as well as how much the customer pays for these optional solutions. In asking about current solutions, you gain knowledge as to what the customer values the most about these solutions as well as what might be missing.
After probing customers on their experience with the problem and current solutions, you can move the conversation to your proposed product idea – your solution. During this part of the customer discovery session, you describe the proposed solution in order to solicit feedback from those most interested in solving the problem. You learn whether your product idea, if developed, may alleviate or reduce the customers experience with the problem. By asking the right questions, you ascertain whether your solution is an improvement over current ones and whether your proposed product offering may meet or exceed expected benefits.
In the second phase of customer discovery, your focus shifts from the customer’s experience with the problem to engagement with your proposed solution, an early version of your product. You want to know if your product idea creates significant value for the customer, enough so that the customer wants the product and is willing to pay for it. We will discuss this second phase of customer discovery in detail when addressing the design and development of minimal viable products in future posts.
The next couple of posts will discuss how to best select early customers for discovery engagement and design effective interview strategies.
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