Creating innovation is always risky. You start with an idea, a hypothesis, you built on it and then get it to market. But how do you know that it’s going to sell? How do you know you’re creating a solution that is actually addressing a need of wider demographic? And how do you know how to reach those who may be interested in your product? Sure you can guess, eyeball it and put yourself in your customer shoes but actually asking and exploring those questions may save you a lot of work, nerves and money.
Customer Research to the rescue!
So let’s start from the beginning. I can’t tell you how many startups we see that haven’t done any kind of customer research. They have amazing ideas, great teams but often very little understanding of their customers. Often they’re so mesmerized by the solution that it doesn’t even cross their mind to talk it thought with potential customers. Sometimes they create a solution for themselves and feel like they already understand everything they have to and there’s no need to spend resources on any kind of research. But I think that there’s also one more factor, that is that we don’t speak about customers, and customer research enough. And people don’t think about it at all, simply coz they’re not aware of its benefits and furthermore of how to conduct it.
How Customer Research may help you:
First of all, doing even basic research can help you asses what are the actual needs of your customer and are you addressing those. Every startup solves some kind of problem. But the question is is it a real problem? Is it a problem that only you have? Is there any other solution that’s addressing this problem at the moment? How people are dealing with it now? And is your solution better?
When you know the needs it’s time to get kneedeep and understand the cause of the problem. Learn a little bit about the people who you want to sell to. Who they are? Where they live? What do they do? What’s actually causing the problem that you want to solve?
Customer research may also help you build and improve overall customer experience. When you understand your customer better you may reach him/her in the most efficient way. You can choose the best channels to communicate with them. Understand their background and underlying pain that’s causing the problem and can target it in the best way. You can create a solution that’s easy to use and perfectly fitted to your customers.
Money is not the excuse
Customer research doesn’t have to be hard. Sure it’s great to conduct face to face interviews with your customers. Those can give you amazing in-depth understanding of their needs and wants. But don’t write off customer research just coz you don’t have resources to carry them. Start with something small. Look for another way to gather as much feedback as possible. And yes, putting yourself in your customer shoes may help understand them, but that is not actual research. Probably the easiest way to test your theories and gather data is to conduct an online survey. It won’t be that complex as face to face conversations would be, but it’s definitely better than doing nothing.
Carry on the conversation
And remember – customer research shouldn’t be a one-time thing for you. It should be an integral part of your companies strategy. In conclusion, keep innovating, iterating and testing.