Culture · June 12, 2020
Pradip Khakhar shares how you can build a culture of customer obsession in your indie startup. 🔥
In this article, Pradip Khakhar from The Product Angle talks about 10 steps to grow a culture of customer obsession.
Does this sound familiar? It's 2 am and you've just had this fantastic idea. You start thinking about it a little more and realize... OMG, this idea is better than you initially thought.
Next, you rush to your domain registrar of choice to see if the domain is available. You spend your first $15. Next, you are so pumped that you decide you need a landing page to start collecting emails and build awareness around your idea. (I'm not an expert on landing pages, from a quick search Carrd costs $19 a year.)
Yes, there is a free option as well to get started. Immediately you have spent $15 and potentially more all without speaking to anyone who might be interested in your product or service. Then you start sharing your landing page across the communities and groups you are a part of. You ask the question, something along the line of "can I get feedback on my landing page". You get some replies:
Sounds promising, however, when you launch you get zero sales.
The reality is that when we launch something, we want to get our product or service in front of as many eyes as possible. With this thinking, we tend to become generic in an effort to try and please everyone.
In reality though, you are not pleasing anyone. Instead, find out who your product or service will *really* help. Learn as much as you can about this group (or segment) of people. They can be current or prospective customers. But wait. I hear you say I've built a customer profile/ persona and I know some demographic information. This is all a fantastic start, however, have you considered:
Being customer-obsessed helps you create assets that evoke the prospective customers to take action. Prospective customers may also feel a sense of partnership. Without talking to prospective customers you are heavily relying on your thoughts, experiences, and assumptions which may prove to be inaccurate.
To be clear, it's not impossible to build a product or service that people want to use and buy without being customer-obsessed. However, it's very difficult and could end up costing you time, money, and resources.
Katelyn Bourgoin, a customer discovery expert, recently helped her husband launch a BBQ product. Here are the stats (without spending a dime on ads, in 48 hours launching campaign 1 of 4):
Source: read more.
If you're planning a big promo/launch—or a relaunch—and you're not starting with customer discovery, you're missing out.
Becoming customer-obsessed means you understand as much as you can about your customers. Understand:
Remember: it's not about you. It's not about how amazing your product or service is. It's about what your product or service can do for your prospective customer. Read Know your customers jobs to be done.
However, if you've asked a prospective customer that you'd like to get together and spend some time asking questions about their experience and they agree.
Do not, I repeat... Do not use this as an opportunity to sell. Again, it's not about you. If you turn the conversation into a sales pitch you may not get them on the phone again. Or worse, they might sign up to be nice and then they'll churn.
Unfortunately, learning to accept feedback and opinions is not a skill that I learned in school. It's a lesson I learned with age.
In school, they teach you to build a hypothesis and I agree. Creating a hypothesis allows you to stay focused on the direction as opposed to being tied to building features. However, don't get emotionally attached if your prospective customers don't see it the way you do. Learn to separate feedback and opinions with emotions. Feedback and opinions are valuable, you may disagree - that's another story. However, you should always be grateful and thankful that customers are taking time out to share this information with you.
Talking to customers is hard, I get it. Building the courage to get on the phone or Zoom call with video takes a lot of courage. In the beginning, you will be nervous – that's okay. As you talk to more people you'll get better.
When I first started talking to customers, I would talk fast. I thought that their time was very valuable and I needed to hurry it up. Your customer's time is very valuable and you should 100% absolutely be grateful that they agreed to spend some time with you. However, talking fast doesn't help you nor the customer.
Firstly, slow down. However, that doesn't mean you don't communicate effectively or assist if the customer doesn't understand. Here's what I mean: You: Can you tell me about what worked well and what didn't? Customer: Hmmm [waits two seconds] You: You know did you like X? Customer: Yes, yes absolutely it was a very nice experience. In the above situation, the customer needed some more time to get their thoughts together. Silence does not mean you should jump in and lead the conversation. I get it, it's uncomfortable, you have to try and push past that initial urge to jump in. Otherwise, the customer may just agree with you. While that feels good, it may not be the real response the customer wanted to share.
Talk the language that your prospective customers understand and are comfortable with. When I started my career learning to code, I thought using big technical concepts would make me sound smarter. I had a really good boss "David" and he told me early in my career that I can be the smartest person in the room, know more than everyone in the room (I'd probably be in the wrong room). However, the magic happens when you can connect and communicate effectively with everyone in the room.
Does your prospective customer understand what an API is or what Zapier does? Maybe. If you are working with developers they would likely know. However, if you are working with a mum and pop bakery helping them with their website, newsletter, and cooking classes. Don't try and explain what an API is and how Zapier works (unless they want to know). Instead, tell them that each time someone buys a ticket to their cooking class the attendee's email is automatically sent to Mailchimp so when they send out their newsletter they receive it. Magic.
Asking the right question can yield so much information. Learning to ask questions takes time, you will get better as you practice. If you'd like to read how to ask better questions read Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling . When you're writing questions, become curious to understand the why, but without sounding condescending or repetitive. Good questions are open-ended questions that provoke thought and discussion. Before you hit send on a question or ask a question, ask yourself why am I asking this question what I am hoping to learn.
Surveys can be a good source of information if you cannot speak directly to a person or if you'd like to send it to a large population. Good question: Below is one question I was asked in a survey about zoom. It's open-ended and it gives insights into which other companies people think are zoom competitors. When I think of Zoom competitors I think Google Meet, Facetime, and Webex. As a result of this survey, when the data was released I learned that people also consider Loom as an alternative to zoom.
A good question that can be improved: The below question is an interesting question, however, I think the answer choice can be improved. By answering Yes, No, or Not sure I can segment the audience. Which then means I need to go back and ask more questions. Therefore, needing more time from the customer.
If you have access to customer's time make it count.
I said this before, in my opinion if you spend some time upfront and prepare the actual collecting information becomes easier and structured. Remember:
If you are able to talk to prospective customers or actual customers, take that opportunity. Talking allows you to have a conversation. A conversation allows you to dig deeper.
There are times when it may not be feasible to get someone on the phone (or Zoom). In which case surveys, and online communities are perfect fit. Twitter is a potential tool where you can work in public. Post topics you are interested in and see what level of engagement you get. Ask questions, it will give you insights into how people think. Find out where your prospective customers hang out online and interact with them. This is the difference between pushing your survey's out to people and pulling people towards you because they are interested in what you are doing and want to learn more.
Growing a culture of customer obsession takes time and effort. However, once you have collected the information spend some time reviewing it. Understand and analyze it, look for patterns or themes. Be curious and explore with an open mind. The more you do this the more natural it will become. Over time building a feedback loop will become second nature.
If you know your customer very well and you are able to deliver an exceptional experience. Guess what they will tell their friends and therefore helping you with marketing and effectively sending warm leads your way. However, there are several pitfalls that you need to be aware of:
In the end, being customer-obsesed means you have learned more about the pain your prospective customers face and are able to translate what you learn into a exceptional experience.
Article written by Pradip Khakhar - Founder and maker at The Product Angle. Make sure to follow him on social media and check his work out - it's amazing!
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