What sounds reasonable at first glance, is however not entirely flawless.
The still fairly new principle of “jobs to be done” represents an alternative approach that allows you to gain more direct access to your customers.
So far, the basic principle has been: the better you know your target group and can describe them, the better are the products and services you can develop on the basis of these considerations. Therefore, with the help of data, an attempt was made to find out as much as possible about the customer and what makes him tick. Detailed personas were used to give customers a face and a personality. The purpose of all this was to be able to put oneself in the shoes of one’s own customers – after all, the service or offer provider is often not even part of the target group oneself.
One thing should be borne in mind, however: You cannot simply predict a person’s actions from their characteristics. There are many correlations between a person’s characteristics and their actions. But often these are not causal at all.
You can easily visualize this for yourself with the following question: Do I act in a certain way because I am me? Or do I act this way because I want to fulfill a task, to achieve something?
Another common mistake is to focus too much on the particular product or misunderstood customer needs. The following famous quote from Theodore Levitt sums it up:
“Customers don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”
So instead of focusing on developing a better driller, the focus should be on the actual problem. The underlying task, for example, hanging a (heavy) picture or fixing a wall shelf.
One approach to avoid these errors can be found in the JTBD theory. It states that purchasing decisions are primarily about completing a task, i.e., a job. Users don’t “buy” products or services, they “hire” them to do a job.
Clayton M. Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School, is considered the inventor of the jobs to be done theory. He summarized his theory in the following quote:
At the center of your considerations should be the question of why customers buy a product or use a service, or to put it another way: what job they want to have done. The more useful your product is in doing this job, the more satisfied your customers will be with it.
The theory is based on three assumptions:
The JTBD principle can be applied in many areas and support you and your company in various ways. The following application areas are just a few of them:
The goals, the jobs, of your customers can be divided into direct and indirect goals. The direct goals represent the obvious tasks that are in the forefront. Indirect goals, on the other hand, are not so easy to identify. To determine them, you need to examine them closely, for example using the “5 Why Method”.
In addition to the direct and indirect goals, other aspects must also be considered. A job has functional, emotional and social aspects. As a rule, the functional aspect represents the direct goal, while the emotional and social aspects are often not so easy to recognize and represent indirect goals.
Not all aspects are always equally relevant and not all must always be addressed. It is rather a matter of developing an awareness of the needs that go beyond functional benefits. Asking about social and emotional factors creates a broadening of one’s horizons, which provides the aha moments when working with the JTBD method.
The most famous example of the Jobs to be done method comes from Christensen himself. He describes how he and his colleagues were commissioned by a fast food chain to boost sales of milkshakes.
The company had already tried to increase sales itself by asking customers in the target milkshake group about possible improvements to the product and implementing their feedback. However, the changes had no impact on sales figures.
One of Christensen’s colleagues took a different approach and asked about what “jobs” customers wanted done. The team interviewed customers on site and asked different questions than the company had previously, namely about jobs. The results showed that a great deal of milkshakes are sold in the morning and that they are particularly popular with commuters. Through the interviews, the following goals and aspects could be identified that play a role in the purchase decision for milkshakes:
In this video, you can review the example and Clayton’s thoughts yourself.
The following lessons can be derived from the example:
The following changes to the product were then derived from these findings, which ultimately led to the desired increase in sales:
This method can of course be applied not only to milkshakes, but also to many other fields. The following basic steps offer you a common thread that supports you in the application. The inspiration for this comes from digitalization coach Andreas Diehl (Digitale Neuordnung) and is best implemented in the form of a workshop.
Jobs to be done is a still young theory or methodology that does not examine the characteristics of customers, but rather the higher-level tasks (jobs) that they want to fulfill.
This opens up a new perspective on the product, the user and the competition. In practical application, the approach can be combined well with familiar methods, such as those from design thinking.
As a customer insights expert and certified Scrum product owner, I experience the importance of customer-centric product and marketing development on a daily basis.
In combination with agile optimization processes and a corporate culture open to experimentation, you will bring your growth fully on track.
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