How to Easily Find out What Your Customer Wants

Chris McQueen

How Airbnb uses Clayton Christensen's strategies to succeed

Photo by Burak K from Pexels

In Marketing, every company or business's overall goal tends to be the same: To attract more customers for their products.

The easiest way for a business to gain and keep their customer base is through understanding their customers.

Customer Experience is an elemental topic to comprehend. A study from Dimension Data in 2017 revealed how 84% of companies that improve their customer experience show a revenue increase.

Another study explained how companies with good customer positively affected their brand loyalties.

We can see how relevant customer experience is to companies and businesses. It has never been this easy to get insights into customer data.

Big Data and Artificial Intelligence help identify the ideal customer and their specific wants and needs.

What truly drives a business is innovation. Many companies see innovation as a top priority. However, the resulting actions aren’t interpreted correctly.

The huge amount of data that is being collected from the customers is used to show correlations. For example, 70% of customers prefer version A from version B.

Based on these patterns in numbers, managers then make decisions. These decisions are based on assumptions that could be wrong. If a customer purchased product A, it doesn’t mean that customer B will do likewise.

What would be a better way to tackle this problem?

Clayton Christensen's Job to be done.

Clayton Christensen is a top Harvard Business School professor, famous for numerous books and studies on disrupting innovation.

In his book “The Innovator's Solution”, Christensen uniquely approaches purchasing a product.

Every purchase has to tick one box in particular:

The product has to complete a job.

Years of market analysis lead the authors of this article (one of them is Clayton Christensen) to conclude that constant focus on correlation and more knowledge about customers has not been effective.

A company’s true goal should be to find out what the customer wants to accomplish. The authors named this concept the job to be done.

We all have different jobs we need to get done. To get into town, we might need a car. We might want to lose weight and pack a healthy lunch. For the presentation at work, we need a laptop and a projector, to show our colleagues our business idea.

We essentially “hire” a product to get the job done.

If the product does a good job, we will “hire” it again the next time. If we aren’t happy with the product we hired to do the job, we will look for an alternative.

As Christensen says in his own words:

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

People want to get a job done. They don’t care about the product itself.

One company, in particular, stood out to me while doing my research. This company truly understood the value of the customer's job.

Let’s dive deeper into this example.

The customer job of Airbnb

Most modern travels know all about Airbnb.

With over 5.7 million worldwide listings in over 220 countries and regions worldwide, Airbnb has provided a welcome home to over 800 million guests.

12 years ago, the founders of Airbnb didn’t skimp on understanding their customers' jobs. Before their launch in 2008, they identified 45 different emotional moments for their hosts and guests.

These moments were written down on storyboards that now portrait the customer jobs Airbnb is hired for.

But what are these jobs?

The 4 main customer jobs, according to Mihai Ionescu, are:

#1 Accommodation for travellers

Travellers want a place to stay. They “hire” the Airbnb room by renting it for a night. The prices are lower than in local hotels. The “hiring” process is simple. You can book via the Airbnb website or an app on your phone.

#2 Accommodation from host

Hosts want to offer accommodation. A host wants to get some extra cash by renting out a spare room or apartment. The simple sign-up process online enables anyone to be an Airbnb Host within minutes. The offer is visually appealing and attracts worldwide travellers.

#3 Experience for travellers

Customers are looking for unique experiences in their Airbnb flat. They aspire to live like the locals for their stay and broaden their horizons. Airbnb hosts offer this authenticity by enabling travellers to stay in their homes.

#4 Experience for and from hosts

Hosts also get to experience a variety of different customers. To enhance the customers' experience, hosts can offer advice on traditional restaurants, special events, and places they must visit. Special interactions between the hosts and the customers can reach beyond the clients’ stay.

These four examples of customer jobs have led to many happy customers and hosts. Airbnb has understood the value of jobs to be done and put it into practice.

Now you might be asking yourself:

“ How can I find customer jobs for my products?”

Applying the knowledge

All jobs to be done follow this strategy:

  1. What is the customer's job?
  2. How can this job be done?

Figure out how you can answer those two questions for your business or the company you’re working for.

But don’t stop there. It would be best if you went on to create experiences for the product's use and purchase. Only then will you be able to “[…]integrate those experiences into a company’s processes.”

If we think back to Airbnb’s business model, we can finally understand why they’ve done so well.

Airbnb isn’t just completing the job. Airbnb is also selling experiences.

For these reasons, Airbnb truly is a success story.

If you can imitate this kind of business model, I believe you will retain customers and gradually dominate your market.

I wish you success on your journey.

Thanks for reading!

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Writer of productivity and life hack topics. Business informatics students. Constantly learning and growing as a writer


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