When you're just starting with Jobs To Be Done (JTBD), it's easy to make some common mistakes that can derail your analysis. That's why I'm going to walk you through a few of these pitfalls so that you don't fall into them yourself!
Using one interview to represent a whole segment or market.
Interview as many customers as possible. But don't try to represent the entire market with just one kind of interview or one technique.
Instead, conduct multiple interviews with different types of customers to better understand your market and learn how their needs differ across segments.
For example, when we started with Jobs To Be Done research for a Fintech client, we interviewed a mix of business users, personal finance experts, and expert consultants who had deep insights into consumer behavior around managing money. We also conducted in-depth ethnographic research where we observed people working on their finances at home or their jobs—but only after we had conducted extensive customer interviews first to validate our observations against actual customer behaviors and needs.
Interviewing people who haven't used your product in the past year.
If a customer hasn't used your product in the last year, they're likely not representative of your target audience—and may even be completely different from those who use it regularly.
When talking about jobs-to-be-done, we generally talk about how people do things now versus how they did things before. If someone hasn't used your product recently, they might not be able to remember how they did things before—which means you'll get less valuable insights from them.
Another reason why you shouldn't interview people who haven't used your product recently is that it's likely that their needs have changed over time.
These people are not your target audience because they're not using your product like your customers. And if you don't have a clear idea of who this group is and why they would be interested in buying something like yours, then it's likely that you'll waste a lot of time talking to them—and maybe even miss out on valuable insights from genuine customers.
Making assumptions about why people use your product and not testing them.
It's a mistake that I have seen many companies make when they're getting started with Jobs To Be Done. They assume their customers are using their product because it's easier, faster, or cheaper than other solutions. But without doing any research or test to confirm the hypothesis, it's all guesswork. You could be completely wrong!
The only way to know for sure is to ask your customers—and even better, observe them as they use your product. That way, you'll have a more objective view of why they're choosing your company over another one and what they value most about the experience they get from your brand.
Rushing through the interview.
The interview phase is crucial to getting the correct data and understanding what customers mean when they say something. It's easy to rush through, but you will get much better results if you take your time. Don't take shortcuts, don't be afraid of silence - don't interrupt or guide the customer through their thoughts. Instead, keep asking questions until they have completely finished explaining their situation (and not just what you think is relevant).
Also important: Don't be afraid to ask for clarification at any point! If you are unsure about anything that was said during an interview, ask for an example or tell them that there was something unclear and ask them to explain again.
Ignoring emotional needs critical to customers.
Jobs-to-be-done thinking is fundamentally about human motivation, so you must consider the emotional reasons why people do what they do. If a job has been done poorly in the past, it's common for customers to feel frustration or disappointment, and they might even feel anger toward the brand in question. You're not going to be able to solve these problems by just improving your product or service — you'll need to address those underlying emotions first!
This can be tricky because there are many different ways that people express their emotions and motivations. To identify them, we recommend researching how your customers talk about their experiences with your products and services — especially if there are recurring themes in their feedback.
Let's say you're using an analytics tool like Google Analytics. You might think that people are using this tool because they want to know how many people visited their website or what page they visited most often. But that's not why people use analytics tools. What they really want is reassurance—they want to know that their marketing efforts are effective and that people are finding the content they create valuable and engaging.
Don't forget about emotional needs when you're getting started with Jobs To Be Done interviews! It's crucial for your customers and your business to understand how these needs impact purchasing decisions so you can build a better product or service experience around them.
Focusing too much on symptoms that you can observe and measure with customers.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what your customers tell you is all there is to know. In reality, what they say might be a symptom of a deeper problem. So make sure you dig into their problem in as many ways as possible—and not just by observing what they do but also by talking to them directly about how they feel and think about their situation. You want to understand where they are coming from as completely as possible so that you can create solutions that will address their real needs and solve the root cause of their problems instead of just treating symptoms.
Remember, you don't have all the answers! Don't assume that because something worked for someone else, it will automatically work for everyone else. Always keep an open mind when trying new things out (especially if those new things seem counterintuitive). Don't let yourself get stuck in an echo chamber where everything around you confirms what's already been proven; it can be dangerous if taken too far!
Use JTBD techniques carefully to gain deep insight into your users' needs and motivations
You can use JTBD techniques to gain deep insight into your users' needs and motivations.
However, it's important not to jump to conclusions. You'll learn more by focusing on the needs that are most important to your customers. Once you've identified a few fundamental needs, try using JTBD principles in testing your assumptions by asking questions like:
- How would we address this need?
- What would be the simplest way of addressing this need?
- What does success look like for our customers when they achieve this goal?
We hope you’ve found this article helpful! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments below.