The greatest source of learning comes from observing your customers!
Data collection is often done through participant observation, interviews questionaires, etc. For best results, however, you will need to assign this to someone who can provide the discipline associated with collecting qualitative data in the field and then accurately analyze the findings.
Here are 6 questions you should ask when collecting outside-in data:
- What market segment would you like to focus on?
- Who are the participants you would like to focus your study on?
- How will you observe the participants (job performers)?
- When do you plan to observe the participants?
- Where will you observe the participants?
- How long will the study take place?
Customers have a job to be done (JTBD) and are seeking to hire the best product or service to do it. In order to gather outside-in data, you will have to start with making some critical decisions.
1. What market segment would you like to focus on?
It is recommended that you consider focusing on all market segments that your organization plays in. In other words, all market segments your products and services are currently engaged in. This kind of effort, however, costs money and takes considerable time. If you have time or budget constraints, take the time to decide where you want to focus your efforts.
2. Who are the participants you would like to focus your study on?
Before answering this question, you will need to define the criteria to identify appropriate "job performers" to do this study on. It should be noted that there could be multiple job performers to get a JTBD completed. In this case you would study each of the job performers. It is important to understand each of the job performer's contributions to the overall JTBD.
Take care to make sure they are a good representation of the market segment you are going after. Pick those that use your competitors products or services to get their job done, as well as those that use yours. I highly encourage you to focus on identifying the right representation of job performers rather than just focusing on customers that bring maximum revenue and profit. Doing the study over a wide target audience within your market segment will help you understand where you stand relative to the competition.
3. How will you observe the participants (job performers)?
This can be covert (watching participants do a job without them knowing) or it can be overt (watching participants in front of them).
4. When do you plan to observe the participants?
Depending on the product or service you are selling, you need to make a decision on when you want to observe the customers.
Here are some suggestions:
- Researching the product/service (pre-selection)
- Selecting the product/service
- Purchasing the product/service
- Unwrapping and installing the product
- Using the product/service
- Servicing the product
- Disposing the product
5. Where will you observe the participants?
In their homes, place of work, or a public place? It is important to note that you are observing people in their native environment, not in a lab or a "controlled environment" like focus groups.
6. How long will the study take place?
Remember you are trying to understand customer needs here, not gather statistical data. The quality of participants is more important than quantity.
In the end it may not be about the product or service features, but about discovering the unspoken job description in the customer's mind that made it the perfect candidate for that job.