Demand Horizon

with Gerry Campbell

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Customer Research

Talking to customers is more about listening than speaking

Gerry Campbell

Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Demand Horizon & Search Expert

Lessons Learned

The best user conversations start with open conversations.

There is a very low correlation between what people think and do.

Look for a way you can isolate a set of needs that people are seeking.


Lesson: Demand Horizon with Gerry Campbell

Step #8 Customer Research: Talking to customers is more about listening than speaking

User conversations, open-ended questions. The biggest problem I see in some of the methodologies that are out there, you build something, and then you say "What do you think about it?" And people are going to go, "Well hypothetically I like it, hypothetically I don't. It should be blue, it should be green. I don't really like where that button is." That's the kind of feedback when you give the stimulus, you're asking people to shift and not give you real behavior. As soon as you ask people to engage their brain and what they think about something, immediately, you're going to get the wrong answer. It's been proven that what people do and what people think about what they do have very low correlation.

So you never want to ask people what they think about something. You want to say "Tell me a story about how you did this. Tell me this or that." Right? You observe the body language, you're looking for the nonverbal queues, you're looking for when somebody talks about their kids, if you're asking, "How do you keep your family organized?" And they get really excited because man I missed my kid for pickup and I lost him for a while. Those are the kinds of things that are going to be really helpful and you talk to people and you draw this stuff out. You look for those strong reactions.

We're working Santa Monica whether it's just a terrible time parking. So one of the things that we're thinking about is maybe there should be an app that helps people find parking. This is what we would do. Fourteen conversations, it doesn't have to be huge number of conversations, where people who are having parking trouble might be. Who are they? Well they're drivers, right? Most importantly they were drivers, 50-50 male female, whatever, just to make sure it's a representative sample. I'm not hung up. I have spent lots of money on market research. This is not rigorous market research. This is just testing the water.

But the question, this is work, it's really important. Tell me about your trip here today. Not saying how you're feeling about parking. It's tell me about your trip today, just give me a broad feeling. And out of the people you talk to, a certain number, five had issues with parking. Then ultimately you ask, "Well, okay. So what did you do for parking?" Then the question, "Hey, if I had an app that I could give you right now that would tell you where there's an open parking space and I reserve it for you. Would you use it? Would you pay 99 cents for that app?" You're asking people to start to think hypothetically but you've isolated that to man down to the point when you know there is a problem. And that's really, really important.

We did a hundred conversations over the period of a few weeks. To get that signal was really important. It was a big investment. And we were looking back to the slide with the signal, we were looking for what was there that we could grab on to that we though was big enough for us to then build a product around. This is Google Trends. Now one of the questions, when I was at Airwell, when I was at AltaVista, we had the query stream. I could see the real data all the time.

There are ways to get at things. And now what we're going to do is, is we're going to walk through a set of tools and those tools are generally available or paid tools that you can get where you can look at the data that drives search behavior and search marketing behavior.

The company that we were dealing with had two specific ideas. The idea was family and they wanted to launch what I thought was the stupid; the whole thing. So, they brought me and my company in to take a look at what they were doing and I said, "Hey, that's great. But why don't we broaden it out?"

So when we started to talk to people out of this previous level of discussion, we isolated 7 needs out of those 100 discussions. X number gave us some coherent feedback and we isolated a set of needs that people said, "I have trouble doing this, that, the other.” So we got those needs and those needs were what we searched for here; a calendar, a browser protector so my kids can browse the web safely, a whatever. So we went from the broad conversations down to features that we could search for.

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