Ask the Right Questions and Pay Attention to Existing Habits

I met with a founding team today to learn about their journey to date. They excitedly shared that they’d had a big realization that led to a breakthrough. The realization was insightful. I was curious to know how they came by this key piece of info, so I asked.

The founders had been building a product and getting feedback from customers for months. They thought they were building something that solved customers’ pain points, but the user sign-ups and engagement weren’t good.

The customers were still complaining about the problem, so the team was stumped. They had been asking customers how they could improve their app to make solving the problem easier, and they incorporated the responses in their product. One day, the CEO explained, he began asking different questions. He asked customers to share with him their current behaviors in running their business. He then asked what they were already doing to solve this problem (nothing). He learned they used many apps and were loath to try another one. He stopped asking how his company could make its app better and began asking how it could make life easier for them.

The team realized they were trying to get customers to change behavior and use another app. But their target customers are small businesses. The owners are stretched thin; they don’t have tons of free time. They’d rather lean into old habits than learn new ones.

The team noticed that the business owners communicated extensively via text messages, so they built a feature that allowed customers to communicate with the company’s app via text messages. Next thing they knew, engagement and sign-ups surged. Because the team asked the right questions and built a product that leverages existing behavior, it finally solved the problem in a way customers embrace.

The early parts of the founder journey are all about understanding the problem and your customer. Asking the right questions and paying attention to what your customers are already doing can be the key to building something they’ll love.