How to sharpen your value propositions?
The term job-to-be-done, simply what someone is trying to achieve, originated from the brain of Harvard professor Clayton Christians. He discovered that this is the key to true innovation. The customer job is the interpretation of the job-to-be-done by a provider. And that is a small but important nuance. This customer job is the alpha and omega of business flow: when someone takes action, this person starts a chain that comes to a halt when the goal is finally reached.
Customers buy products and services that help them carry out the customer job. But while products and services come and go, the customer job itself never goes away. The underlying idea of the customer job says that instead of focusing on improving products and services as an organisation, one achieves more sustainable improvement – and sometimes disruptive improvement – if one focuses on improving the execution of the job.
Customers don’t want a drill with a diameter of 6mm, they want a hole with a diameter of 6mm. Theodore Levitt
By the way, most customers don’t want a 6mm hole, but they do want to fix something. The masterpiece, for example, that one has been able to tap on the head and that one, motivated by the desire for a better appearance, wants to show to his circle of friends and acquaintances. Or to attach a coat rack so that one has a better-organised house. And, as Pattex shows with its ‘no nails or screws’ range, this does not always require a hole.
The customer often does not know how the execution of a job could be done differently and better, but knows very well when the execution of its customer job has been successful. Strategyn – founders of the ‘outcome-driven innovation framework’ – discovered that customers typically have 50 to 150 precise descriptions for the successful execution of a customer job. These precise formulations provide a unique insight into how customers measure value.
The impact for organisations
A customer-centric organisation wonders which jobs its customers want to carry out and to what extent it can facilitate the execution or even take care of it, thereby relieving a customer completely. By focusing on the customer’s precise descriptions of how they measure value, they can achieve innovative, sustainable improvements to their own offerings. Product-centric organisations focus, as the name suggests, on product improvement. In the case of the drill, they wonder how they can make a better drill and ignore the underlying customer job or customer motivation. These organisations have an average success rate of 17% for launching new products. Companies that innovate on the basis of the customer job have a success rate of 86%!
The customer job is not only important for having a job, it also ensures continuity.
Different types of customer jobs
The nature of the job varies from simple to complex and one can choose to carry it out oneself or have it carried out in full. The choice for a full service does not always have anything to do with the complexity. It is true, however, that a complex customer job is usually divided into sub-tasks.
Let us go back to mowing the lawn. This is usually a simple task that one can easily carry out oneself. However, one can also choose to completely outsource it to a third party (from son or daughter to the company specialising in garden maintenance). Everything depends on the preferences and possibilities of the individual customer, and on the dominant fundamental force. Many lawns are meticulously maintained for the sake of ‘better appearance’ in the neighbourhood. The use of a specialised garden maintenance company can also be rooted in the ‘better appearance’ force, although it may just as well be motivated by the desire to feel better…. Others quickly mow the grass themselves because they have to or because they enjoy it.
The organisation Strategyzer, provides a useful framework for understanding the customer job and the customer itself. This framework correlates wonderfully well with the 4 fundamental forces. Each customer job can be split up into four categories:
- Functional jobs (do better)
- Social jobs (appear better)
- Personal/emotional jobs (feel better, be better)
Context and importance
Attention is also paid to the context of the customer job and its importance. Some jobs are more important in the eyes of certain clients than others. For example, what an organisation considers important can also be unimportant in the eyes of a prospect or customer. A superficial understanding of the customer job is not enough. The challenge is to understand the « why » of the customer job. An ideal method for this is the « 5 Whys » developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used by Toyota. Usually, after asking the why question five times, you get to the root of every problem, hence the name. An example from a printing company: how to link an invoice refusal by the customer to a shortage of ink.
– The customer refuses to pay invoice 1234 for the invitations.
– Why? (1)
– Delivery was late and the invitations could no longer be used.
– Why? (2)
– The printing took longer than expected.
– Why? (3)
– We ran out of ink.
– Why? (4)
– All the ink had been used up for a big order that came in at the last minute.
– Why? (5)
– We didn’t have enough ink in stock and we couldn’t reorder in time…
Solution: You will find an ink supplier who can deliver almost immediately at peak times, so that you can keep a minimum stock and still meet customer demand. As an ink supplier, you can develop an appropriate service based on this type of information…
Every customer job has its pain points, obstacles, and risks. Pains can also be divided into functional, social, emotional pain points. There are also secondary pain points, such as the annoyance of having to visit the shop or office for the first time. An inadequate budget is a major obstacle and the consequences of something going wrong can be so great that one does not take the risk.
Just as the context takes account of the importance of the customer job, the pain points are ranked from bearable to extremely painful.
Some questions you can ask to identify the pain points:
- How do your clients describe the term ‘too expensive’? Are they talking about time, money, or effort?
- What risks do your clients fear? How do they feel about taking risks?
- Are there mistakes that almost all of your customers make? Are they using a certain solution in the wrong way?
Every customer job also delivers results and benefits, which is why you would put energy and resources into its implementation. Benefits range from absolutely required to totally unexpected. They can generate a functional, social or financial gain, or they can generate positive emotions. The benefits have their own scale: from fun gadgets to essential elements.
Some sample questions to discover the customer benefits:
- What time and effort savings do your customers value?
- What do your customers dream of? What would be a great relief for them?
- What level of quality do your customers expect and how do they determine that level?
- What would your customers like to see more or less of? If the answer is « yours », the first case is chiselled and the second is in the rats.
What do you do with all this?
By thoroughly analysing your customers’ jobs without taking into account your existing products and services, you obtain a valuable set of specifications. On the basis of these specifications, you can determine the extent to which your products and services help your customers in carrying out their customer job. If your help turns out to be insufficient, the information will enable you to develop a value proposition that sets you apart from your competitors.