"When we have a job to do, we find something that we can buy or hire to get the job done. Understanding the cause of purchase, really improves the chance of success." - Clayton Christensen, Harvard researcher
I started drinking coffee in college for one reason: I needed something that would keep me up during my long classes.
At the time, coffee was a commodity for me. I'd go to a donut shop and buy a cup for a Loonie (that's a $1 coin in Canada).
Fast forward to today, and things have changed. I go to my favorite coffee shop and buy a premium cup almost every day. It costs me $3.50.
But I'm not just here for the caffeine. Buying that expensive cup of coffee serves many roles in my life.
Here are all the reasons I go to my local coffee shop:
These are "the jobs" I'm hiring a single cup of coffee for.
They're identifying me as "part of the club." Yes, the coffee is good, but for me, the inclusivity means even more.
It's key to understand the jobs your customers hire your product to do. Unsure of which features to build next? Trying to figure out your marketing strategy? Figure out why your customers hire your product and you'll have the insight you need to make good decisions.
"The only two people who can give you real feedback about your product are people who just purchased it and people who have just canceled." - Jason Fried
The best way to start understanding JTBD (Jobs to be Done) is to interview and observe folks who have just purchased a product.
Here's an example: I was working with a web development team when my co-worker messaged me:
"Coda 2 was just released, and it's 30% off only today."
Neither of us had used Coda before, but we'd heard about it previously. We knew a lot of people in the industry who swore by it.
But probably even more important: we had been following Panic (the team behind Coda) for quite some time.
We were fans: we read their blog posts, drooled over their design, and liked what they stood for.
We'd always wanted to try Coda, and the sale price gave us an excuse to pester our boss about buying it. "Are you sure you two aren't just getting this because it's cool?" he asked.
Three months later, neither of us had incorporated Coda into our workflow.
The folks at JTBD Radio have a helpful framework called the Four Forces. These are the feelings we experience during a purchase that push us toward a new solution, or that pull us back.
In my previous story, here are the forces that moved us towards Coda:
And these are the forces that held us back:
The question for Panic, and every software company is:
What could we have done during that initial process to help the customer succeed with the product?
Panic was able to get us to buy, but wasn't able to get us to activate. In software, it's not enough to just "get the sale." Your goal is utilization. You want people to use your software and get a benefit from it.
Positive outcomes for your users leads to more:
To find out what makes someone use your product, and get a benefit from it, you can do customer interviews with folks who have just signed up, or just cancelled.
After a customer signs up for your software, send them an email asking if you can connect over a phone call. You'll want to schedule 60 minutes for the call. (I use Calendly for this).
Structure your interview around the timeline of their purchase. Here are some sample questions:
Remember: it doesn't have to be your product you're interviewing folks about. You can start practicing now.
If a friend mentions that they recently made a purchase, ask them about it!
Looking for more resources on doing Job to be Done interviews?
This article was original published on October 11, 2014. It's been updated since then.