Remember Blackberry? Once a dominant force in mobile phones, they failed to adapt to changing customer needs and were ultimately surpassed by Apple and Android. This cautionary tale highlights the importance of customer discovery, even for established tech companies.  A study by Gartner reveals that acquiring a new customer can cost 5 times more than retaining an existing one.  Customer discovery is an investment that can pay off in spades by ensuring your product remains relevant and keeps your existing customers happy.

What is Customer Discovery (and Why Do You Still Need It?)

Customer discovery is more than just a fancy term for market research. It’s about fostering an ongoing conversation with your customers to understand their evolving needs and frustrations.  Here’s why it’s crucial even for companies that have been around for a while:

  • The Customer Churn Challenge: Did you know that according to bain, even a 5% churn rate can significantly impact your bottom line? Customer discovery helps you identify potential churn risks and proactively address customer concerns.
  • Staying Ahead of the Curve: Technology and customer expectations are constantly evolving. Customer discovery allows you to identify new trends and opportunities before your competitors.

Planting New Seeds: Real-World Examples

Here’s how some established tech companies used customer discovery to adapt and thrive during the pandemic:

  • Intuit (TurboTax):  Intuit didn’t just use customer discovery to improve tax filing features. They also focused on user experience.  In response to feedback about complexity, they introduced a simplified filing option.  During the pandemic, this focus on user experience proved critical as they catered to a broader audience filing for unemployment and stimulus checks for the first time.
  • Airbnb:  Airbnb leveraged customer research to understand the changing travel landscape during the pandemic. This led them to introduce “flexible search” and “longer stays” features, catering to the rise of remote work and domestic travel.
  • Dropbox:  Dropbox recognized the need for enhanced collaboration features through customer discovery methods like user interviews.  They responded by developing integrations with popular productivity tools, making Dropbox an essential tool for the remote work revolution.
  • Zoom:  Zoom’s constant focus on customer feedback allowed them to identify features critical for the remote work environment. Based on user needs, they prioritized video call security, ease of use, and integrations with popular calendar applications.  This data-driven approach kept Zoom ahead of the curve during a time of massive user behavior shifts.
The Customer Discovery Toolkit for Established Tech Companies

The Customer Discovery Toolkit for Established Tech Companies

Ready to breathe new life into your tech company? Here are some actionable tools to get you started:

  • User Interviews:  Have in-depth conversations with your customers to understand their current frustrations and unmet needs.  Focus on addressing their specific pain points related to your product or service. Ask questions like: “What are your biggest challenges using our product?” or “What features do you wish our product had?”
  • Customer Surveys:  Gather broader customer insights through surveys with a mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions.  Tailor your survey questions to address common challenges faced by established tech companies.  For example, you could ask questions about customer satisfaction with your current product roadmap or their openness to new features.
  • A/B Testing:  Test different product features and marketing messages to see what resonates best with your current audience.  Use A/B testing to validate your customer discovery findings and measure the impact of changes based on customer feedback.

Bloom Again: Make Customer Discovery a Priority

Customer discovery is a continuous process, not a one-time fix.  By regularly assessing your customer landscape and planting new seeds based on their needs, you can ensure your tech company flourishes for years to come.