Finding a customer problem worth solving is key to successful products and businesses. But how do you distinguish a pressing problem from a mere inconvenience? And what’s a customer problem anyway? Let me show you a Customer problem template to help you identify painstaking problems, as well as lead relevant discussions with your customers.

Two people having a conversation
Two people having a conversation

We all have product ideas. We want to solve problems. We strive to make things easier, more convenient. We are wired by nature to think about solutions. And yet, a striving business idea starts with an insightful understanding of a customer problem. But how do we know we’re dealing with a pressing problem, when we hear one? It depends on what you are able to hear.

When I talk to emerging product designers, they hear problems such as these:

  • “The product X is missing the feature Y”
  • “People need to use the device X to do the activity Y”
  • “Insufficient information about…

Prepare research — recruit participants — talk to them — make sense of what you’ve heard. Rinse and repeat. It takes a lot of time and energy to get that invaluable feedback from your customers and you wouldn’t want to waste that effort by letting your ego roll over the interview, right?

Casual interview
Casual interview

Let’s say we’re past the definition of solid research goals and we’re about to run the interview. We’re super eager to grasp the customer’s world and we can’t wait for the meeting. But as it happens, customers aren’t always as excited about new products or features as we are. And we’re about to hear it first hand. If you aren’t ready for it, your ego will get hurt and you will most likely try to save your face. A moment like that can ruin the rest of the interview.

Luckily, there is a way to become aware of when this is happening and I will show you how to recognize it, so that you can do something about it. I’ve compiled a fictional interview based on what I’ve experienced across hundreds of interviews in the past. You’ll see the three most common situations where your rational mind can be overcast with emotions and spoil the course of the interview. …

Survey — the holy grail of understanding your customers at scale. But is it? It depends on how you ask questions.

Image for post
Image for post

A survey is a popular technique to collect quantitative data. And also, it’s one of the most difficult techniques to master. The challenge is to design survey questions so you collect relevant data.

We all hope to ask questions to get actionable answers to build our decisions upon. When you design a survey, you strive to form questions that all respondents understand in the same way and without bias. Otherwise, you’re looking for trouble — you’ll get insufficient or erroneous answers. What is even worse, you may not even know that your collected data are spoiled.

I’d like to show you how you can identify troublemakers and fix them. Let me walk you through frequent question errors and how to turn them into inquiries that will bring you relevant answers. You’ll able to review survey questions (e.g. the ones that others suggest you should ask) and evaluate whether they’re worth asking. …


Braňo Šandala

As a freelance product designer, I help startups and software companies turn bold product ideas into thriving businesses.

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