Good Question! — A complete collection of 150+ customer development questions for startups
On the road to launching Houston, we’ve been obsessed with exploring customer development questions. This is for two reasons:
- We’re trying to learn about our early audience and build a product that solves a real problem.
- Houston itself, is a tool that helps early startups tap into their audience for feedback and insights, so we’re always looking for great questions they can use.
We have been researching and collecting customer development questions used by some of the top entrepreneurs, founders, authors and thought leaders in the startup community. From an initial list of over 300 questions, we now have roughly 150 that we’ve put into 6 functional categories.
Continue reading to learn more about the 6 question categories or click below to see the full collection right now!
These are early market research questions meant to help you paint a picture of your target audience. There are hundreds of questions you can ask here, depending on your target audience. Just try to think of characteristics that can help you segment your audience and build a customer profile (or profiles).
- How old are you?
- What is your occupation?
- What model best describes your business?
Activity questions help you understand the behaviours of your target audience. What do they spend most of their time doing? How are they using specific tools? What processes are an important part of their job? As you learn more about the activities that make up their day, you’ll hopefully start to uncover problems and pains without having to directly ask for them.
- What is your role at [company, organization, etc]?
- In a typical [day, week, month, workday, etc], how much time do you spend doing [process, activity, task, etc]?
- What [tools, apps, sites, etc] have you tried, but stopped using for [process, activity, task, etc]?
An important part of launching a successful product is understanding how to reach your target audience. You want to know what their interests are, what they seek to learn in your industry, who they follow for information and how they typically like to consume it. Answering these questions will help you identify content marketing topics and the best methods to deliver them.
- How did you find out about [tool, product, app, etc]?
- Off the top of your head, can you name a couple of [brands, influencers, authors, etc] you follow and learn from?
- What’s your single most important question about [topic]?
People buy products to fix, accomplish or avoid something. It’s your job to determine what that is. If “Activity” questions don’t naturally uncover your audience’s problems, these questions will help you approach them more directly. The second “Digging In” section will help you dive deeper to determine the severity of the problem, who it affects and how motivated your audience is to solve it.
- What would be the first thing you would change about your work?
- Tell me about the last time you [process your product is improving]?
- Why is this a significant problem?
After you understand your audience’s problem, you’re now equipped to start creating a product or service that solves it. These questions will help you determine how your MVP should function and what critical features it needs. They also focus on getting meaningful product feedback from your initial users and determining their willingness to purchase your product.
- What could be done to improve your experience with [process, problem, task, etc]?
- Does [product, tool, app, etc] solve your problem with [X]?
- Is there anything else [product, tool, app, etc] needs in order for it to be invaluable for you?
Happiness questions help you gauge your customer’s satisfaction with your solution. The two critical things you are trying to determine here are: 1) How important is your product to them 2) How willing are they to refer your product to their friends?
- How disappointed would you be if you could no longer use [product, app, site etc]?
- How likely is it that you would recommend [product, app, site, etc] to a friend?
- If you were to recommend [product, app, site, service, etc] to a friend, what would you tell them?
This post was written by Jason Oakley, co-founder of Houston, a tool that helps startups grow, engage and learn from the early adopter email list.