Tim Hordern

I ♥ building amazing products and teams. QA + Product + DevOps + Fast = Awesome.

Discovering True Customer Motivations

Let me bring you in on a secret. It’s the dirty secret of commerce.

Most organisations have no real idea why their customers actually choose them over their competitors. Or why consumers choose them at all.

Sometimes there is no choice - consumers are only presented with a monopoly or a single choice for their given area or need. But what happens when there is a choice?

A lot of companies assume that their consumers love them. Or they love the extra features. Or the low prices. But they usually don’t really have much of an idea past generalisations.

Sometimes their base assumptions are wrong. Sometimes it’s only a vague understanding.

So how can we learn what is a customers true motivation, and why our product succeeds or fails? It’s often a question we end up asking ourselves because our product is failing, but it’s actually just as important to ask the question when our product is succeeding. Learning why our product is hitting the right note with customers lets us work out the formula for how to continue making successful products.

You should begin using the full range of metrics, analytics and testing. User testing will tell you some things. Observation and diaries will help tell you some other things. Make sure you’re measuring everything (and importantly, the right things). Sales and conversions are key. Retention is really important. I can’t tell you exactly what things to measure because it will vary from one product to the next, and one company to the next.

But actually, the single best thing to do is test your assumptions. List out what you believe is the assumption that is currently the reason your customers would choose you. Then start testing that. What happens if you tweak that thing? What happens if you remove it? If you double it or increase it? Keep testing. Get into the Build-Measure-Learn loop from the Lean Startup and get better & better at building your product changes/developments, measuring what has happened and learning what to do next & learning about your customers and your market.

Get better at learning, and you’ll get better at building the right things for the right people.