Creating Rapid Business Growth with Customer Learning

In this interview excerpt, Jean-Michel, founder of London’s leading beauty treatment platform Le Salon, details what he’d do differently if he could go back in time and start his business again.

Highlights:

  • Most businesses fail because they don’t learn to understand their target customer well enough, quickly enough
  • Customer interviews can help an entrepreneur or business to learn about their target customer, but most customer interviews are done ineffectively
  • A hybrid approach of focusing on facts, timelines and the job the customer is trying to get done in relation to your product or service, leads to effective customer learning
  • Effective customer learning, allows business to create better products and market them more effectively, which can lead to rapid business growth and success!

See below for the excerpt transcript and follow this link to listen to the full podcast interview (where the excerpt is at 49:35).

Video transcript ๐Ÿ—ฃ

Founders, once you’re like five, six years in, you have a very good idea of how you would do it differently. So how would you do it differently Jean-Michelle? So I think the way I would do it differently is I would focus on my users, a lot more from the very early days. I think I would use a very structured approach to customer interviews.

That’s something that we started implementing at Le Salon. We used a method called, so it’s jobs-to-be-done (these interviews have the specific goal of gaining a deep understanding of the job the customer is trying to get done in relation to your value proposition) mixed with like a timeline switching interview (a fact based interview focusing on concrete actions that have been taken in the past around the customer’s pain point and efforts to resolve it – including purchase and use of your product or service if relevant). So usually these are 20mins to an hour interviews with your customers. And you go through the timeline of how they discover your product, or even like when the problem, you know, when they experienced that problem for the first time.

And when they found out about you, how they decided to book you, and how has that journey been after that, so you can have that timeline. And really talk to as many people as possible, but usually like 10, 20 people is enough. And then start to see patterns and that’s how you learn what you need to build.

I really like the idea of, as you said, of getting structured in the way that you understand the journey these people are going on, because that’s, that’s really how I see leadership often and entrepreneurship as well. You know, you’re trying to take people on a journey. You’re trying to find people that are here at point A and you know, you want to take them to point B. Which is, here, they’re not satisfied with their beauty treatment and then satisfied customer over here. But it’s not just that , it’s a journey that they go on.

That’s really interesting because then after that you can start designing your experiments. Because, you know, everybody knows like you build a startup, it’s gonna be experiments, very focused, you’re gonna run like a few experiments. But which ones you run? How do you decide what is the right one? And what we did in the early days, so we just had ideas and we started putting those ideas together and then started testing them as a process.

But this is only based on your individual assumption and not what the customers want. So doing these interviews helps you refocus your energy towards the things that really make a difference for your users. Something that we did after those interviews is that we noticed that our customers valued, there’s one thing they valued more than anything else, it’s convenience. And convenience in the sense of, ‘I can do things at the same time, I can fit it around my schedule.’ So, you know, I can do so many things when I get my treatments at home. But we always marketed the service as treat yourself , take care of yourself, do this, do that. But never about, you know, whether it fits into your schedule.

And when we started doing that, we really got better results in our marketing. We started getting customers who were sticking more. So these improvements, because they come from your users, because you understand your users, they really help you build a product that has a lot more value for them.

And it’s, it just keeps building, the more you know, the better you will start fitting it in inside their life.

The Steve Jobs answer is that people don’t necessarily know, or aren’t necessarily able to verbalise the journey and the experience that they have had.

So I think, Steve Jobs is spot on, on this. People don’t know what they want and that’s something that we noticed in customer interviews.

So if you say oh, ‘how would you like this?’ They’ll just come up with things and it’s not going to be helpful. So the way we ask questions at Le Salon is that we ask for facts. So instead of saying, ‘how would you like to do this?’ It’s like, ‘how did you do it last time?’ ‘How often do you do it?’

And that changes completely your approach to customer interviews.

A lot more objective .

Exactly. It’s objective, and you take away the customer’s willingness to help you. Because what they would do is they’re always trying to help you, so they’ll start thinking about things that they think are going to be helpful for you. And they’re also going to start projecting, in terms of what they want their life to be, or how they see themselves. But if you start going back to what they really do. Then that’s how you are solving their life’s problems.

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