User Experience Research vs. Customer Discovery

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, Sales, skmurphy

We Help You With Customer Discovery

Q: Why don’t you ever blog about User Experience Research (UX)?

The short answer is that we do customer discovery not user experience research.

Our Clients Want Leads and Deals

My clients come to me for help generating leads and closing deals, so that narrows my focus.

We don’t sell studies to larger firms that want a lot of fingerprints on the gun if things go wrong. If things go wrong for too long for my clients they are out of business. It tends to keep me–and them–focused very directly on revenue. We tend to focus much more on the “job to be done” by the product instead of constructing user personas.

Customer Development Is Customer Discovery and Validation

I look at B2B customer development as a discovery driven sales process, you validate your idea when you get people’s time, their opinions, and ultimately their money. Larger firms and consumer firms pay a lot more attention to the experience, I look more at talking to the right people about a critical business issue and then offering a compelling solution. It’s a different mindset from the UX folks although there is some overlap.

From my perspective UX is an optimization technique for refining an offering in a particular niche. We tend to focus more on:

  • problem identification
  • discontinuous innovation (vs. refinements to an existing paradigm)
  • niche selection
  • and developing a compelling value proposition.

You can tell when you have a compelling value proposition: someone takes out their checkbook or credit card and pays you.

It’s a reasonable but weak signal–necessary but not sufficient–when someone who fits your target user profile is willing to spend time with you. It’s a stronger signal when they give you proprietary information about their needs, and much stronger signal when they ask to evaluate your offering to solve a real problem (not a toy or evaluation benchmark).

How Do You Build A Compelling Value Proposition?

Our approach is to build a model of your customer’s business both before and after they employ your product or service. The delta or difference between the before and after, whether it’s faster cycle time, reduced errors, higher revenue, lower costs, etc.. is a good start on determining your value to them.

Refining your understanding of their business–in particular understanding the diagnostic questions that will allow you to accurately predict the likely impact of your offering on their business–is the key to a good customer discovery interview, correctly pricing your offering, and closing the sale.

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