Course Content

Total learning: 27 lessons / 4 quizzes Time: 6 weeks

Why Customer Discovery is Vital For Your Business

Customer Discovery

When we first have an idea, we are often eager to move forward and may try to skip some of the vital first steps such as customer discovery. We feel our solution is amazing and ready to go as is. However, going blindly forward with your idea will cost you time and money.

The Importance of Research

A key reason for failure in many businesses is a lack of research. It does not matter how great your product or service may be if there is no customer for it. One great example of an idea that was wonderful on paper but failed in practice is that of the distribution of menstrual cups to women it developing countries. The purpose in distributing menstrual cups was to provide options for females during menstruation as women in many developing countries lacked access to sanitary supplies, often using dirty rags, sticks and mud or other objects. The lack of sanitary supplies also resulted in girls missing or leaving school early resulting in a lack of education. Unfortunately, while the idea of a reusable cup seems great, the team behind the idea failed to take user experience into account. How easy was it for the intended customer to use the product? What other blocks may prevent the user from using the product?

In further research, one notes that there are several issues with a reusable hygienic product. First, many of the developing countries lack access to clean water and may even lack toilets or outhouses. The menstrual cup needs regular cleaning. It also requires being able to wash hands after use. This is not possible without clean water. Second, the team failed to consider cultural taboos that surround menstruation in general, let alone the personal nature of using the device. The lack of understanding by the intended customer also involved other risks such as improper use and health issues including toxic shock or infections from unsanitary conditions.


Another example of a product failure due to lack of research is TiVo. In the late 90s, TiVo was introduced to consumers as a device that let you record video direct from your TV to a hard drive, much like recording to a VCR tape. Customers could record their favorite shows and watch the show when they preferred rather than be tied to the traditional TV schedule. Seems like a great idea, right?

The issue with TiVo was not the product itself but rather the user uptake or, customer behaviour. The customer had to learn how to operate the new device and plan what TV shows to record. The customer needed to design their own viewing schedule. For a customer looking for a passive TV experience requiring little preplanning, the TiVo was simply too much work. Unlike the modern instant streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, customers had to make conscious choices in order to record programs to be watched at a later date. The new streaming services require only that you pick from their selection without any forethought or foreplanning.

If your product requires your customer to change their behaviour in order to use it, be sure to research how difficult or easy it will be for your customer to embrace the change. What steps must your customer take to use your product or service? How do your customers currently use an existing product? What added benefits will your customers gained by switching to your solution? Think about these questions as you continue developing your product or service.