It doesn’t matter if you think you have a “great” idea – what matters is if the customer thinks so too, and is willing to pay for it.
You see, customers don’t buy anything they don’t want. So the question is, how do you figure out what customers want and what to give them? Product search.
Here’s how product discovery works, why it matters, and some tips for picking out products your customers are guaranteed to buy.
What is Product Search?
Product discovery is a process of understanding the mind and emotions of your target market, to understand who they are, what they care about, and all the problems they wish they could solve.
Those problems will prompt you to search for the solutions they need and the products that must be built to deliver them.
Product discovery matters because creating products that don’t serve customers will ruin a business. And so do products that make customers say “meh.”
Businesses don’t last that long as apathetic customers settle for the 10th best in a competitive market.
Your goal should be to hear the customer say, “This is what I’ve been waiting for!”
And the only way to get that kind of feedback is to identify the real needs of your markets. Too often, products are built on the assumptions made by your team and company, rather than the preferences of your customers.
Products should be evidence-based and informed by listening to customer wishes, which is the process behind product discovery.
How does Product Search work?
The “what” of product discovery is straightforward, but the “how” is a bit difficult to understand.
The first step is challenging your assumptions as we mentioned in the previous section. If your executive team drives product initiatives, you need to challenge the assumptions they are making about the likes and dislikes of customers. If your product team suggests features based on past experiences, they need to be examined closely.
Regardless of where product ideas come from, they need to be weighed against fresh customer insights and reliable data.
What you think you “know” about your customers is what you “hypotheise” about your customers. And then move on to the next step:
Conduct empirical research.
There are 2 types of data you can collect for empirical research:
Qualitative data is the subject and it is about how your customers and prospects feel about your brand and products.
Customer surveys such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) help you understand how customers currently view you and your solutions. It helps you empathize with your customers and see their journey through their eyes – allowing you to develop a better customer experience and product.
Quantitative data is all about numbers.
Have customers opened onboarding emails after subscribing to your app? Did you get more sales from customers who bought the product in the last 6 months or the last 12 months? How many customer complaints have you received since introducing the new feature?
This kind of data and much more will give you direct insight into customer behavior, and when cross-checked with qualitative data, will begin to create a clearer picture of who your customers are and exactly what they are. What do you want?
Again, every assumption must be challenged and compared to actual data.
Armed with this data, you can create “living” documents that get updated as you learn more about your customers.
The first document we recommend creating is a customer persona. This is a list of your customers’ demographics, psychology, and verified behavior.
Another useful document is the Customer Journey Map. It documents the prospects on the path to becoming a customer. This usually starts with some sort of “first contact” and ends in a renewal of service or another purchase.
It helps you visualize user behavior and attitudes the way UX teams can follow and give context to how and why a user interacts with their products.
Create those three documents to give you and your company the best progress-growth-map to follow.
You’re going to want to create a lot of progress-development-map-documents as you go through the product discovery process.
The product discovery process is messy, sometimes confusing, and is different for every business and market. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some basic principles you can use to make it easier and more effective.
Start by Empathizing with Your Audience
Empathy should always be the starting point in product discovery. It forces you to look through your customers’ eyes and see the world as they do.