As you listen to customer needs and develop insights to put the customer at the center of your business, it’s helpful to put a name and a face to “the customer” and to develop a customer point of view (POV). You might be used to thinking of your customer in general terms (“organizations that need to create a lot of videos quickly and cheaply,” or “HR managers who need to offer personalized onboarding videos to improve employee retention”). That’s definitely important to understanding your market in a broad sense. However, when it comes to designing products and services, often you’ll get better outcomes if you develop your product with a very specific person in mind—not a composite or demographic.
Understanding the POV of one particular customer can help you more clearly understand their pain point, their process, and what product features and innovations would benefit them. It’s simply easier to walk in your customer’s shoes if you put on Maria’s shoes, rather than “somebody’s” shoes. You’ll be better able to imagine Maria’s needs, reactions, and experiences, because you’ve talked with her. And when you design your product to better meet one person’s needs, you’ll end up meeting many other customers’ needs as well. By simplifying the mental process from “Make my product work for every possible customer” to “Make my product work for Maria,” you’ll arrive at clearer, more actionable customer insights.
The trick to making this work, of course, is picking the right person: a person who looks like your ideal customer. If you do that, building a customer POV provides an additional layer of customer validation and risk mitigation.
How to Build Out the Customer POV
1. Describe a specific person who you interviewed. Summarize your impressions of their role and their temperament, for example.
2. Describe that person’s need, in context. What is specific need they have? What is the specific place, time, or set of circumstances around that need?
3. Describe how they will feel as a result of meeting that need. Explore the insights you gathered in the interview.
1. Maria, a busy HR manager of a large healthcare provider, is frustrated and barely has time to talk, but she cares deeply about her job.
2. She needs a way to reduce turnover starting from the moment when someone is hired, regardless of what department the new hire is in or who they’ll report to, and without incurring high costs or extending the training period,
3. In a way that makes her feel like she’s fulfilling her professional responsibilities and meeting corporate expectations without sacrificing quality.
Then describe how your startup’s service or a product will meet that need:
1. My startup is Synthetic Training Video 4All, which creates personalized onboarding videos, instantly, affordably, and at scale;
2. and because Maria, a busy HR professional at a large healthcare organization,
3. needs to reduce turnover without spending too much time or money,
4. in a way that makes her feel professional and ethical, my product is the best solution.
Is your product already validated? Great! Reverse engineer the process to reach a deeper understanding of your customer and your market. You might be surprised at what you uncover.
The exercise of developing a customer POV will deepen your understanding of the Problem Space your customers experience. This helps you focus your efforts in the Solution Space of your product. We’ll talk about those in more depth in our next post in this series.