What customers want?

Questions that will change the way you communicate.

A customer is not just looking for a solution. When she sees your brand or product, its not just about whether it solves her problem.

Key to discovery

You will have to help your customer imagine a transformation in her life with your product. To connect with your customer, your product should translate into an emotion that is key to her bigger aspirations.

Now in the umpteen number of things that the customer has, how do you remind or connect with her on the problem?

By relating to the problem the same way your customer relates with the problem.

The most important question.

What do you want your customers to become? What are you asking them to become? What do you think they will become? Is it good for them?

As a problem solvers you see a problem, ask questions on why it should be the way it is. You find that the problem has an easier solution because of evolution in technology, changes in consumer behavior and changes in environment. And you build it.

Now its your responsibility as a product owner to make people aware, to make them understand that life need not be the way it is now. Its your responsibility to help them believe that life could be way simpler, to help them try the product and reap its benefits.

From awareness to value creation and building, its the product owner’s responsibility. The only responsibility of the consumer is to consume innovations. And payback with their time/attention, of course.

What is your ask from customers?

Any innovation does and will include a change of behavior from customers. Now a small change in behavior in big market could translate into a really big value.

Its about making people lose habits that they are very happy to do so. And in turn ASK for new set of habits. Habits which seem so small when compared to the return on adapting the new behaviour.

For example, when compared to what UBER is providing, all they ask in return is just download the app and raise taxi request. You have to show your customers how “big” a value you are GIVING in return for changing their behaviour.

How do you make the change in behavior as small as possible in comparison to the value you are providing? How to make users feel its all worth it? How do you communicate that the value your are providing is a great deal for the change in behavior you are asking?

Storytelling and customer communication

Storytelling is a way to inspire others to think the way you do. You are opening up the possibilities, to impact actions indirectly. A way for people to see something as you and get inspired or find a reason to act on it.

Your customer will take what you say in an essence, compare it with his or her own experience in the area. It will either collide or will not make any impact.

How do you inspire change in people?

How do you inspire them to change their thoughts, a change that would inspire them to act on it? How do you communicate something that would let people on their own journey to discover something. A thought you want them to have, on which they actively tussle and find the results on?

More importantly, If you can do inception and plant one idea in your customer’s mind — what will that be?

A customer typically goes through a cycle of actions before adopting a product, before integrating it in her life. Enabling customers to perform each of these actions as quickly and as seamlessly possible directly correlates with success of your product adoption.

  1. Discover a product in a relevant context. Context that the customer is very likely to relate with.
  2. Visualize the problem and product offering in a way that would trigger new ideas and imagination.
  3. Realize the pain and see value in using the product.
  4. Internalize the product, by imagining how it could solve the problem/needs of today.
  5. Act by buying/using the product.
  6. See results, sees value, continues to use the product. The more she uses the product the more value she gets out of it.

How do you relate with your customer?

For a good story telling you need context and motivation. A story is a conversation, and its more about how the consumer relates with the content.

There is always a point of entry into any system/product/solution. That will be the biggest pain. That will be the one to impact actions of the users. Understand what people think they want and then translate the value of your startup into their terms.

Different people have different motivations and pains. You will have to address a major pain and let customers understand rest of the message by themselves. Whatever you say, whatever you talk about, people always translate into how it affects them, at a personal level. Story telling is about making some one see the relevance in what you see, and make a change in their actions.

To really communicate, tell a story to a user, to make them realize value in something the same way you do, to get them convinced on an idea — you should be able to connect with them at a personal level. Its not just about telling what and why. It about making them care about the story, that it goes into their mind as something useful. As something that needs to be acted upon.

“the product itself and the way people use it should suggest new ways of articulating the value — and refinements to how we communicate the value should lead to principles which clarify decision-making around product features and design.” — Stewart Butterfield

Problem to solution path

How do you let users come from the problem or context to feeling strong that your product is the solution for them? How do you get users to feel invested in the problem that they first think a solution is needed? How then you lead them to think that your solution is the kind of solution or the exact solution they need right now?

If people can follow from a problem to a solution all by themselves, then they have taken ownership —they have invested in the idea — its their idea now. Let people get inspired by a story, a problem, let them come up with ideas and then tie your solution with the customer’s idea.

Its important for customers to be reminded of the problem in its entirety — to make them realize — “wow I have been doing all this” —” this is a problem for me”— and that “I need not do all these”.

You tell a story about the problem in its entirety in a way it inspires people to see new ways to solve it, new ways to get rid of it. You get the users invested in finding the solution to problem, even come with their own ideas.

How to make customers successful

Traditional marketing and consumer communication ended when the user buys a product. For internet products, its when the acid test for your product begins. Its when you actually know if your product what your customer wants.

What are success points for your customer? What triggered them into thinking that they need a solution or looking for one? What was their journey before trying your product? What is the relation customers have with the task — work or personal, important or unimportant, needs to be completed or not, does completing it it impact their future or not?

What will make them convinced that something achieved is a success? what are the different levels of perception a customer goes through before she takes your product seriously? When does a transition happens in customers mind in terms of the product adoption?

Defining customer success

Every customer has three motivations to use your product. Its to accomplish

Functional goals (e.g. finish my work)
Personal goals (e.g. to complete it fast, to feel clear and in control) and
Social goals (e.g.impress my peers)

Now making your customers be successful through the product means helping them accomplish these goals.

So on-boarding a customer is not just signing up a new user and forgetting about them. Its about helping them transform their lives by using your product. And on-boarding starts from the time customers interacts with you on any channel — website, app etc Now some relevant questions to guide your customer communication:

  1. How do you make your customers to progress on these levels to achieve success points?
  2. What does success look like to the customer?
  3. What does failure look like to the customer?
  4. When can you say if your product transformed the life of your customer?
“Once you’re able to fully take on your users’ perspectives on why they’re feeling restless before signing up and what they’re hoping to find on the other side, you can much, much more reliably design a welcoming workflow that will usher them into the rad new life they’re looking for. “
“If you want more people to adopt your product, you have to make sure you know what progress looks like in your user’s life, not just on their screen.”

Relentless focus on elevating users to success

What is your customer hoping to find? Why are people “hiring” your product? On-boarding always begins with the motivation to change, which always takes place before the user lands on your site.

“ In order for your on boarding to succeed, it has to make your users successful. People sign up for products because they’re frustrated with their current situation. The story starts at “frustrating situation” and ends at “successful situation” — make sure all the dots connect!”

The point is not to sell people the product. The point is to help them achieve success. And in the process understand key triggers and motivations that started users on the process to finding a solution.

When was the last time you tried a new product? What was the transition in your mind from looking at it, connecting with your pain — and solution, trying it, using it, integrating it?

Looking at your own relationship with the products and innovations you consume, can shed light on how the journey looks from the customers’ perspective.


[1] Who do you want your customers to become

[2] Intercom Onboarding book

[3] Small Data