Q: With regards to customer relationships, what is one thing you wish you could have done differently?
Peter: I wish we had started talking to customers even earlier, and making sure they weren’t existing customers of Safari Books Online.
We started doing customer development interviews early this year following the model Clay Christensen helped popularize around finding the “job” your product is hired to do by a customer, but when we got into the thick of development, we found it hard to sustain that kind of deep engagement. That was a mistake! Customer development is hard to do for the first or second interview, but they get increasingly easier, fun and productive. We try to do one a week now and think it’s an important discipline to keep up. The interviews are heavily structured around understanding the customer’s needs—the jobs they need done—and only incidentally about the product or the features.
Brett Sandusky is the founder of bdigitl Media Labs, a consultancy that helps companies with user experience and product development challenges to launch new products. He is based in New York but works globally. He is on Twitter @bsandusky.