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Customer Discovery Surveys… Get Your Objectives Right and Flow On

When I do customer discovery with surveys, I cover a wide range of topics. Oftentimes, I don’t have the luxury of going back to survey respondents. However, even with many objectives, I must be concise lest respondents abandon the survey.

Some objectives and flow of a survey:
  1. #1 objective: test hypotheses/ idea. Be focused on the idea and how ancillary questions are related. Don't bake into the survey multiple ideas.
  2. Know the customer or find out who they are. If I don't have background info of the respondents available, I ask about their backgrounds (occupation, responsibilities, etc.).
  3. Understand the customer --> plan the product roadmap. At the beginning, I don't say anything about the idea. Instead, I broadly ask for the respondent’s processes and pain points. If the initial hypothesis is false, then the user may share the real problem (first pivot!). I progressively get more specific to the pain point.
  4. Any existing solutions today? That is, are respondents using a known competitor? Consider including an open-ended option in case it’s not listed. Test for likes/ dislikes.
  5. Introduce the idea and test for responses. Introduce the idea in a short description, then ask whether the respondent would use the product or service. Also, consider asking how much she would pay for a service as described to gauge price tolerance/ value opportunity.
  6. Understand the marketing logistics. How can I reach my audience? Are there key mediums they absorb information (blogs, magazines, etc.). The toughest part of startups is acquiring customers, so understanding ways to reach them effectively can be gold. I also ask about device usage to understand the technology stack (i.e. prioritization of builds).
  7. Thanks! Can we keep in touch? I always thank the respondent, and ask for contact info to keep in-the-know.
What are some questions that have been gold for your surveys? How would you build a strong customer discovery survey?

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