How to understand your customers’ jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) using interviews

by | Apr 6, 2023 | Jobs to Be Done Theory and Target Market Segmentation, Market Research, User Experience

If not your own, make your users’ jobs easier

Ever heard of the jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework? It’s a target market segmentation theory that is based on a customer’s desired outcome instead of the product or purchasing journey.

JTBD enables predictable innovation and allows businesses to address unmet customer needs by identifying a customer’s job. For example, a flu patient doesn’t need cough medicine; they need a clear chest.

But the magic only happens when you put the theory into practice, and you need to understand your customers’ JTBD before you can spring into action.


The 5-step jobs-to-be-done interview process

Step 1: Do the pre-interview legwork

Determine who you’re going to interview. Start with those who’ve:
  • been loyal to you the longest;
  • used your most advanced products or services; and/or
  • spent the most money.
But remember: These customers must’ve used or purchased your solution within the last three to six months, so they don’t struggle to remember their experiences.

Step 2: Develop a comprehensive questionnaire

There’s no point in interviewing a bunch of people and winging the questions. Targeted research requires a targeted interview script, especially if you’re talking to strangers.

Start by mapping the customer journey to make drafting the questions easier.

Aim to cover things like:
  • The customer’s first thought
  • Passive and active searching phases
  • Criteria that initiate a decision
  • The purchasing moment
  • The consumption process
Then, develop a set of talking points (not exam papers). You want the interview to be conversational and unique so you can derive individual and individualised responses.

Step 3: Interview like a boss

Depending on your interviewees’ preferences, you’ll want some sort of voice recorder, medium or platform handy to record their answers. If your conference software doesn’t record interviews, you can always use your phone’s recorder and transcription software to convert the interview to text. and Descript are highly effective transcription solutions that allow you to record or upload audio files.

Step 4: Turn transcribes into a job map

Go through each transcribe and highlight key takeaways from each. Get a whiteboard and add sticky notes containing these key takeaways. This way, you’ll have all the problems and desired outcomes in one place for streamlined analysis.

Next, organise the information into categories:
  • Concerns: What made your customers choose you over a competitor?
  • Behaviours: What were customers doing while searching, testing or using your solution?
  • Benefits: What made your solution stand out?
  • Platforms: Where did they search for solutions?
  • Improvements: Are there any new features customers want to add or remove?
  • Decision criteria: How did they compare and choose solutions?
  • Jobs: What job did they need to get done with the product? Identify the goal, outcome, and emotional and social elements.
  • Competitors: If they mentioned competitors, how did they speak about them, and why are you better?
Step 5: Interpret and implement

Review and rate each category from most to least common to identify what matters most to your customers. From here, you can present the data to your teammates.

When presenting, focus on the responses that surprise you and contradict what you’ve been doing. This way, you and your team can recognise the room for improvement and the strategies already working.


Refining your work in progress

Well done. You’ve gathered critical insights through qualitative data. It’s no easy feat interviewing a bunch of strangers, but now you know all about your existing and potential customers’ jobs-to-be-done. Make the most of your data to innovate new products or services and use it as a reference for future strategies.

JTBD interviewing isn’t for everyone. But it is for us! Contact InteractRDT.

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