Customer development is the process of getting feedback from prospects to validate and optimize your business idea, product, or service before you can start the production. In a way, you also get to understand your targeted audiences’ demands, discover ideas, and at times, create your potential customer base in case your product is absolutely unique. Customer development is critical to the success of your business idea and the stability and scalability of your business. It is a manual process of interviewing prospects and you can hire freelancers to do on-the-field work and collect the required information. You can also collect information online through social media and analyze all the data to come to a conclusion. Here are some of the best tips for customer development process to be fruitful.

Tips For Finding Prospects To Interview –

Finding prospects for feedback is the major problem entrepreneurs face at the very beginning of the customer development process. They give up thinking that they should build the product and the customers will follow eventually which is where most of them go wrong. There are various ways of getting the prospect to interview both offline and online.

Offline Methods – You should visit conferences and seminars that your prospects are likely to attend. Distribute feedback forms among the attendees with interesting questions and arrange a small talk session in between to get the attention of the attendees so that they fill the form and pour their heart out. Similarly, you can interview the consumers directly and ask for their opinions on the pretext of posting the video on YouTube or Facebook page so that everyone gets interested to answer your questions. Sometimes, you have to invest a little and offer something in return to get the opinions of the prospects.

Online Methods – Seeking feedback from potential customers through the online medium is very easy. If you have a Facebook page, you can post polls and other creative and interesting posts to attract followers so that they comment their opinions. There are various advertisement options available where you have to pay per form to get genuine opinions from targeted audiences. Furthermore, you can put up a website and ask people for opinions and announce that random people will get some prizes. Quora and other question-answer forums are great platforms to seek potential customer opinions. Craiglist, Mechanical Turk, LinkedIn are perfect platforms to get quality feedback.

Tips For Interviewing Prospect –

Conducting an interview to get honest opinions is a skillful job. It is better to post freelance jobs to hire people who can do it appropriately. Here are some of the tips to keep in mind to extract the best out of the people you are interviewing or fetching feedback through the online medium or feedback forms.

Framing Questions – Asking the right questions is essential for the Customer Development process to succeed. Enough time should be spent framing the questions so that there is no need for conducting a second interview. It is better to ask open-ended questions rather than just yes-no stuff. Open-end questions get longer answers and the right insights.

Get Raw Details – It is not a good idea to pitch your idea at the very beginning. There are chances of the person getting biased by human nature and not being able to express his opinions openly. Furthermore, you should not force your idea upon him to agree with your viewpoint. It is better to start with a few questions in the niche of your idea so that the person can say openly what he wants. Only then you can pitch your idea and ask for features to include or modify. From unbiased and honest opinions, you are likely to discover new ideas and better products.

One-To-One Interview – Even though one-to-one interviews are hard to conduct in comparison to seeking feedback online, but one-to-one and in-person interviews are always better in getting the right state of mind of the potential customers. You can understand the problems, demands, and expectations. You can also discuss various variants of product ideas and also understand a lot from the body language and emotion of the person. Similarly, on social media sites, interact and cross-question to get better insights.

Collect Contacts and Referrals – Customer development is not just validating and optimizing your ideas but also about creating your customer base. Collect contacts of the people you are getting feedback from and get referrals who might be interested in the feedback session both on online and offline medium. You are basically creating a network chain of genuine potential customers and at the same time, getting more honest prospects to help you in the process of customer development.

Other Miscellaneous Tips –

It is better to appoint two people for offline interviews because while one person is taking the interview in the best possible way, the other person can record and read the body language to get better insights.

The more time a person pays complaining about an existing problem, the more money he will pay to get it solved. But you should always stay on the topic and the other person can notify when the interview gets out of the track.

One has to be flexible to conduct one-to-one interviews and have a presence of mind when something unexpected comes up that can reveal a lot of useful details. Focus on the problems, not the solutions. Don’t rush the process because important details can get skipped. Prolong it as long as required.

Keep the above-mentioned tips in mind and you can have a fruitful customer development process to validate and optimize your idea or even discover new ideas to build a company around it.

Kitty Gupta