Finding a real customer problem is a challenge.
As a startup your priority is to validate the customer problem. In order to do that you must show empathy and truly care about solving the issue. You must constantly be asking the question “can our product solve a problem that is urgent and valuable for our customer?”
Critical to finding a real problem is going after a customer segment that you can access. You need to talk to the customer and connect to them through listening. You need to approach the customer with both confidence and humility – confidence to ask the tough questions and humility to say that you got the assumptions wrong.
Ask the customer to walk you through their day. Follow up with questions that dig deeper:
- What is the one task that you are never able to get off your to-do list? Why? Does it take too long? Too much effort?
- What services are you using that you know could be better? What services have you been looking for but just can’t find?
Talk about the problem space, not the solution.
Generally speaking customer problems need solutions that increase convenience, lower cost, achieve better health, better careers; a better quality of life. Customers want to avoid undesired costs and situations, negative emotions, and risks.
By talking to the customer your startup develops a vocabulary that lets you explore the problem landscape. As an added bonus, you can use the customer vocabulary to develop and market the product.
To be a successful startup you have to understand the problem better than the competition and ultimately better than the customer.