How To Capture Customer Jobs, Pains, & Gains That Aren’t Subjective

Added on by Kavi Guppta.

In this post, we explain how to eliminate the subjective or biased aspects of your value proposition design through customer interviews and experiments. These two activities will help you gather very solid and quantitative customer evidence as you design your value proposition.

To really remove bias or subjective thinking when capturing jobs, pains, and gains, you need to distinguish between what customers say and what customers do. To start, you’ll want to conduct what Steve Blank, father of the Lean Startup movement, calls “customer discovery”. This is where you will talk to customers about their jobs, pains, and gains. After those interviews, you will conduct customer experiments to further eliminate the subjective aspects.

So you're task is to go from customer discovery, where you learn your first insights, towards providing real solid evidence from experiments.

Capture what customers say

Let’s start with the customer discovery interviews.

You will need to get out of the building and talk to 50 or 100 hundred people to gather initial insights on your customers. These insights will be important to the customer experiments you design later on.

Always start the conversation with what your customers are interested in. That’s number one, and that’s very important. With this in mind, you won’t start out by biasing the conversation around what you are interested in.

Keep these tips in mind when conducting customer interviews to remove any bias:

  1. Avoid selling your value proposition. Don’t start off with trying to gauge interest in your solution or proposed value proposition--put that in the back of your head and really focus on the jobs, pains, and gains to understand what matters to customers.

  2. Avoid asking for opinions. In your customer interviews, make sure you don't ask about opinions. So rather than asking somebody, “would you do this?” or “would you do that”, you would instead ask, “when is the last time you bought a similar product?” or “when is the last time you had this particular job to be done?”. This way you will encourage answers where your interview subjects can explain when they may have done a specific type of action or job-to-be-done.

  3. Gather quantitative answers. If your subjects point out an important job but they can't come up with an instance where they've actually done it, then they're probably not being honest. Try to gather quantitative answers. For example, you could ask “what does earning more money mean to you? Is 10% more?” Do your subjects agree or give a more substantial number? This approach will allow you to get into instances and concrete quantities to understand how they measure success and how they measure failure.

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A Quick Guide To Asking Good Customer Questions

In this post we’ve compiled a few best practice suggestions for you to come back to in one handy blog post.

Capture what customers do


At this point you have gathered the initial insights into your customers’ jobs, pains, and gains, and potentially around your proposed value proposition.

You’re now going to get your customers to do things through experiments. One simple activity is a call-to-action experiment. It’s a simple one a lot of companies do where they stand up a landing page with a description of their value proposition, and then ask people to sign up if they’re interested.

If people don't even submit an email to your landing page, or interact with the call-to-action, then it's definitely a clear sign that they're not interested in your value proposition. If they provide an email and they want to learn more about the product or service, or know when it launches, then you have a little bit of evidence. And ultimately, if you can move towards pre-sales or conducting simulated sales experiences, then you can start to get some very hard evidence on your customers.

These types of landing page experiments don’t only work for B2C companies. B2B organizations can utilize the experiment to understand if potential prospects are interested in your value proposition (either by signing up), or getting in touch to learn more.   

Customer experiments will help to remove a lot of the subjectivity because the experiences in your tests will simulate a real-life buying action.

To collect the strongest evidence, you have to pay attention to what really matters to your customers--not what you assume matters to them. That’s your responsibility as an innovator, entrepreneur, or intrapreneur: to find the most solid evidence possible, and to prove that your idea could work.


Check out our guide of essential testing links.

In this post, we’ve collected 10 essential links to help you design, implement, and manage your portfolio of experiments.