Customer development is the process of getting customer feedback to discover or validate ideas for a service, product, or product feature. You can use it to ID problems, test the water for new startup ideas, and optimize your existing products. Just like you wouldn’t cook a roast before finding out all your guests are vegetarian, you wouldn’t build a product before making sure people wanted it. Airbnb’s Brian Chesky dropped in on the website’s hosts and didn’t stop until he knew exactly what they wanted. Getting feedback from your current/potential customers is key. You don’t need to knock on their doors, but you do need to start a conversation with them. Typeform is the perfect way to do that—give our customizable, mobile-friendly customer development survey template a go.
It depends on your aim. Searching for a niche in the market? Focus on problem discovery and problem validation. Start with a question like: “What gets in the way of doing your job effectively?” Or, go deeper with: “What’s the single biggest challenge with [add niche topic here]?” Make sure people have a high motivation to solve the problems they’re sharing: “If you had a solution, what would it mean for you?” Perhaps you already have a product idea that needs public validation. Ask: “What do you think of this product?”, “What might prevent you from using this product?”, and “would you pay for this?” Is your product already out there? In that case, give it to them straight: “What would make this product better?” Or: “What drives you to continue using this product?” The answers you get may surprise you, and they’ll definitely help you. For some extra tips see our survey questions guide.
You can implement small tricks to help you get quality answers you can really sink your teeth into. First off, consider filtering out respondents early on to focus on the different needs of power users compared to new users. A good question for this is: “How would you feel if you could no longer use our product?” And despite what your teachers told you, being vague is sometimes good. Open-ended questions like “what do you think of this?” (with accompanying image—Typeform’s great with images) can elicit unexpected answers and reveal your most committed users. If it suits your brand, be as friendly and conversational as possible. Typeform’s one-question-at-a-time interface is designed to feel as natural as a chat with a friend. We find that it invites people to be open and honest in their responses—giving you good data to go on.
You’ve got the responses, now you need to act on them. A good customer development survey with plenty of results can give you invaluable data for a marketing strategy. Who do you want to focus on? If it’s people that are unaware of your product, highlight responses from new users and seek to publicize how your product will soothe their pain points. If your focus is optimizing your product for the most engaged users, pore over their answers and find a common thread. What’s their motivation for using your product? What feature solves their biggest problem? Remember to ask what made them buy your product in the first place—then pile more resources into the most common reason for buying. And who knows, you might just get a nice juicy quote for your social media channels—so kindly ask if you can use responses for marketing purposes.