Customer Development and Research

Out of the Building #4: Dear Diary…

This week, we gonna review a highly individual, personal tool: diaries, reports, mini blogs, namely the detailed documentation of happenings and reflections.

WHAT? Whether it’s online or on paper, asking some customers to keep a diary regarding a specific topic, activity, habit or daily schedule can provide you a deep look into what’s actually happening in your target segments’ life.

WHO? Obviously, this rather requires a trustworthy, ongoing relation between you and your potential customer (increasing the chance that they gonna write it as busy as a bee instead of slacking after a half-hearted initial nod), so in this case, friends’ friends or even friends might be asked. (If they fit the right segment criteria, obviously.)

HOW? Ask your candidates to conduct a diary about a specific issue your project is about – handling money, making payments, buying stuff online, choosing what and where to eat, going to bars, hanging out with friends, travelling, you name it. You can either ask them to make notes on their smartphone/laptop or even give them lovely little (paper) notebooks to take notes.

It is even better if you provide some guiding questions, like: Please describe how you dealt with…How did you make a decision…Your experience was…How did you feel?…What were you missing…etc.

You can also ask them to take some photos – this makes it much more fun for you both.


The virtual one


The paper & pencil one


For the neo-romantic tech addicts

WHERE? This is a remote tool with an additional (optional) face-to-face wrap-up.

The main advantage is that your target customers can live their usual life without you forcing them into an artificial situation or sniffing around. They are taking notes in their usual environment, about their everyday experiences.

After a week or two, ask the people to send you / hand you the notes. If you all have time for it, you can also sit down for a coffee and talk about their experiences, almost like in a customer interview. Actually, it can also be a preliminary phase for customer interviews.

WHEN? This method can be interesting both in the problem/customer discovery phase (looking for problems, pain points, needs) and when people already started using your Beta. (You can actually also ask some of your early test users to conduct a diary about their user experiences.)

WHY? People forget about stuff fast. It’s human nature. If you ask them to write down their emotions, reactions, experiences, needs, it will be much easier to review processes, situations and spot interesting details.

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