Have you ever had that feeling, as a customer, that the establishment, business, person or product just didn’t understand you?
For whatever reason they simply forgot to ask your opinion and if they had, you’re confident you would have had a much better experience. Most of the time, these problems can be obvious, but without asking the right questions we will never truly understand what our customer needs.
A really good example of this is what Disney did in creating the FASTPASS system in 1999.
Prior to 1999, myself and many other parents stood in two hour long lines, in the blazing hot sun, with sweaty and irritable kids waiting for a magical ride that would whisk us away to neverland for a whopping two minutes. Afterwards it was back in line for the next magical moment. You get the idea, not so magical right? So why did it take from 1955, when Disney World opened, to 1999 to figure out that people didn’t like waiting in line? Good question.
Most of the time, the problem is right in front of us, we simply have to ask our customers the right questions. Now, let’s be clear, the answer isn’t always obvious or easy. The solution to a problem or opportunity can take time to develop, prototype, test, validate and launch. However a problem well defined is half solved.
As launchers, we need to constantly invest time in understanding what our customer wants and needs. A great way to do this is to build a character for your customer, often called a persona. Building a character helps to better define who they are, what they do, why they buy, when they buy and how they buy. Using this simple methodology of Who, What, Why, When and How can help you better understand your customer.
For example, let’s call our customer Brooke the Busy Balancer.
Brooke is married, mother of two kids, ages 4 and 6, and employed full-time. Brooke is what we call a multi-tasker and really good at it. She manages the household schedule for after school pickups, swim practice and work. She enjoys making dinner for the family but finds she is usually hustling to do so. It is important to Brooke that the family has time together and meal time is a place to create those moments. Brooke finds herself buying more and more things online to save time. Lately, she has found a grocery store in town that allows customers to order groceries online and pick them up at a defined time. Brooke doesn’t mind spending money on things that add value for her family. Vacation for Brooke is a chance to relax and most importantly create experiences for the family.
Now if you were Disney, how might you design your theme park? Specifically, how would you design the experiences around Brooke? When it comes to waiting in line what would Brooke want that experience to look like. You now know Brooke, so what is important to her?
For your business or product: Who is your customer? What do they do? Why do they buy the things they buy? How and when do they most often buy?
Answering these questions and developing a character that you can begin to model your product or service around will have you well on your way to better understanding what your customer needs.