How to get your customers to build your product/service for you

We know that great companies don’t just build great products, but ease the pains for people, make their life a little better in some way.  

So how do we find out what pains we can ease and what problems we can solve for our customers? We need to do something completely crazy and actually talk to them!  What?! Talk to my customers? Where will I find them? What will I ask them? Well, this is where something called Customer Development Interviews come into play.

Customer interviews are a unique way of talking to your potential customers in a way that allows them to tell you what their problems are and hopefully gets you closer to solving them for them.  The idea behind these conversations is that you are not pitching your idea to your customers, you are rather validating (or invalidating) the assumptions you have around what they want.

For example, I had an idea for a Hello Fresh-style food delivery service for mums who are weaning their babies onto solid foods. The idea was to deliver fresh, organic food to mums, ensuring their baby was getting best quality produce and a wide variety of food to try.

My assumptions here are that a) mums want to feed their baby top quality, organic foods and will pay a premium for this to be done for them, and b) that mums want this help and aren’t happy doing it all themselves.  The best way for me to find out if other mums have this problem and want it solved for them is to talk to them! 

The steps for customer interviews go something like this:

  1. Find 5-10 of your early adopters who have the problem you are solving and are looking for a solution
  2. Ask them questions about their problem, getting them to talk about what problem they experience, how they’ve tried to solve it, and what the problems are with their current solutions
  3. Take notes on their responses
  4. Analyse the results to look for patterns of the same problems coming up over and again


For a more in-depth overview on the process to follow, here is a great post on that.

The beauty of conducting customer interviews is that your customers are essentially telling you what product to build for them, and what marketing language to use to sell it to them (more on that in a future post)!

I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but to me this is THE most important step in the ideation phase of starting your company. If you don't have that close relationship with your customers and their problems, pains and fears, you have a slim chance of actually building something they love.  Imagine creating a product or service that you know people are dying to buy from you. Wouldn’t that be magic?

What’s your biggest problem at the moment with talking to your customers? Tell me, I would love to hear!