Understanding Customer Needs through the Lens of Jobs to be done

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How can you bring innovation to your product? It may appear an unpredictable and well-researched process by experts, but it’s not a rocket science task.

Once you understand the causal factors that impact the innovation processes’ variability and their controlling factors, predictability becomes the innovative part. But, before that, let’s start with innovation.

Product/service companies consider innovation a process to meet customer needs with ease and in a unique manner. It can be divided into two segments:

  • The solution – involves ideas of new products or features which deliver new or existing services in a unique or novel manner,
  • Customer needs include the jobs fulfilled through the product (which, how, and what).

Humans rarely struggle with the idea generation segment, as there are often more ideas than implementation. The biggest struggle comes with innovation, which is conceptualized, developed, and implemented for new product/ service ideas that satisfy the “customer needs” side of the jobs to be done equation.

After understanding the companies’ pain points from their product development experiences, it boils down to five key issues where they struggle to understand and process their target customer needs.

These issues become a significant variability factor of the innovation process, and most of the product team members:

  • Disagree on what are the customer’s “needs” or what customer needs exist.
  • Cannot construct an effective customer need statement for informing the jobs-to-be-done framework.
  • Unaware of all the customer’s existing and potential future needs.
  • Do not know the degree of the customer’s needs satisfaction with available solutions.
  • Unaware of the consumer segments with different sets of unmet needs.

To break down an effective customer “needs” aligned solution, it is necessary to view the consumers with a jobs-to-be-done lens – making the product suitable for the customer’s jobs instead of matching with the competitor’s products.

1. Define What Are The Customer Needs That Exist

what-are-the-customer-needs-through-the-lens-of-jobsThe first step is defining which customer needs to align with your product/service solution. Once you gather all the customer needs data, now reverse the process, and build your product around those needs:

  • What jobs should the product accomplish, and to what degree,
  • How customers can interact with your product throughout their purchase and usage lifecycle.
  • What emotional and social customer needs will be fulfilled with your product/service?
  • Which customer needs cannot be fulfilled with your financial goals or constraints?

With a jobs-to-be-done framework you can answer these questions through the jobs-to-be-done framework, where there are different types of customer needs tagged as respective jobs:

  • Core-functional jobs – include different core customer jobs to be done, with their job steps and outcomes. This segment helps in devising correct product functions for the development team.
  • Related jobs – which include indirect but related customer jobs which will be completed with the prepared product.
  • Emotional and social jobs – which include different emotional and social customer needs which get fulfilled with your product.
  • Consumption chain jobs include installation, disposing of, repairing, upgrading, storing, cleaning, receiving, purchasing, etc., customer jobs and their steps along with the respective outcomes, informing product lifecycle activities.
  • Financial outcomes inform the customer’s financial constraints and goals for those needs to be fulfilled.

2. How To Construct a Customer Needs Statement

how-to-construct-a-customer-needs-statementAfter you decide what customer needs should be satisfied by your product offerings, you need to define the customer needs statement. The words of the information need to be added after brainstorming, and it should communicate how the customer measures value and satisfaction when the jobs get done.

Also, those words in a statement should provide actionable information to the development team for developing the product functionality and design. But remember to define a stable need statement that should focus on the jobs to be done, not the product.

The ideal structure of the customer needs statement is as follows:

Verb (minimise) + Metrics + Object of control + Contextual clarifier

For example, “minimise the steps to get the desired restaurants for roof-top dining experience” is the desired outcome for finding a good restaurant.

3. How To Gather Customer Needs Data

how-to-gather-customer-needs-data-for-lens-of-jobsThis step accomplishes by preparing a job map, which breaks down the customer’s needs and core jobs into discrete steps, along with detailed answers of what the customer is trying to accomplish and how irrespective of the solution.

After mapping the job map, with the help of customer interviews and advanced qualitative market research, 5 to 10 desired outcome statements for each job set are prepared. You need to prepare outcome statements for all the job sets – core, emotional, supply chain, financial, etc. and order them with details of how customers measure the product success of getting their job done, from the start to end.

4. How To Determine Unmet Customer Needs

how-to-determine-unmet-customer-needsCustomers with unmet needs are easy to address and are effortless to target as they are unsatisfied with the available products/ services. From the desired outcomes enlisted, you can figure out which are the least satisfied and most needed by the customers, becoming the value creation ground.

With the help of quantitative statistical research, we can validate which outcomes are underserved for the customer’s needs. A survey can be conducted based on the desired outcome statements, where around 100 to 1000 customers (with different customer needs) are interviewed and presented with those desired outcomes. The input from this survey will determine the unmet and overserved customer needs, which can be met with loyalty rewards or other incentives for example.

5. How To Discover Segments Of Different Unmet Needs

how-to-discover-segments-of-different-unmet-needsWhen you want to discover the customer segments having different unmet needs, the segmentation should be based on desired outcomes and no other classification sets like psychological, demographic, ethnicity, etc. Since the companies cannot agree precisely on unmet customer needs and how to segment them, they fail in product innovation.

While analysing most of the markets over the past decades, you can discover that segmentations for different unmet needs approaches have been a prudent jobs-to-be-done methodology for product development. This proves that the markets are only sometimes homogeneous, and a one-for-all fit solution rarely works. That’s why your approach should be through the lens of outcome-driven segmentation of the customer needs.

How To Segment Markets?

how-to-segment-markets-for-customer-needsWith the help of quantitative surveys, we gather market data and segment them into desired outcomes. Through factor and cluster analysis approaches, we discover the products that customers rate and then place those customers in the respective segment. After this, the segments are profiled to find which unique complexities the customers face to achieve the different sets of unmet outcomes.

After understanding the companies’ pain points from their product development experiences, it boils down to some key issues where they struggle to understand and process their target customer needs. Once you segment your customer market needs, it becomes easy to solve those issues.

Then you can easily filter out the unmet needs existing in an underserved, lucrative market segment and apply your product creativity to deliver a unique service experience for those customer needs. That’s how the jobs-to-be-done lens guides product teams to find their relevant customer needs segments in detail.


The customer landscape for any product/service-based company keeps evolving and changing in various situations. The jobs-to-be-done lens helps find the right solution to predetermine the customer needs and improve the predictability factor of your product development.

With this approach, you can find the precise customer needs – met or unmet- and your product development roadmap prepared at the end of the journey, which will also help with your digital marketing.

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Blogger and Marketer by Passion | Senior Online Media & PR Strategist at ClickDo Ltd. | Contributor to many Education, Business & Lifestyle Blogs in the United Kingdom & Germany | Summer Course Student at the London School of Journalism and Course Instructor at the SeekaHost University.