Defining Customer Job Action (Video)

Techniques For Customer Job Interviews

Video Transcript

When you begin to inquire what jobs people and organizations need to get done, defining the job action is the best place to start. Recall that job action is “what” job executors are doing or intend to do to generate success outcomes in a particular circumstance. Defining the job action first gives you a good starting point for a more in-depth inquiry of a customer job.

Think about it. When you have an important job that can’t be done very well with an existing solution, you get frustrated. More specifically, you have dissatisfactions or “pain” associated with the use of some product, service or a solution that you provide yourself. In this case, we use the metaphor that you are “struggling” to get this job done.

This “struggle” metaphor represents important jobs that that are not being done well. If customers are currently using a solution that nails a job perfectly or is good enough, then they are not struggling to get that job done. They are sufficiently satisfied with the solution and will not be motivated to seek out a better solution.

If your intention is to create a new product or service that customers want, then you’re looking for important jobs that people and organizations are struggling to get done. These jobs are the best targets for innovation because when dissatisfaction gets high enough, customers become very motivated to find a better solution.

Because a job can be complex and multi-layered, you want a practical entry point to begin developing what we call a job story — a structured narrative that holistically describes a job that a person or organization is struggling to get done and the particular circumstance surrounding that job. Your aim is to identify important jobs that are not being done well with current solutions. And the more customer pain the better for innovation purposes.

When you begin a job story interview, the natural pull is to discuss why a person is dissatisfied with a specific product or service that they are currently using. However, this entry point will confine your focus to what’s wrong with the current solution and how it can be improved. Avoid this going down this path.

Instead, start by asking yourself — “what action is this person or organization currently taking or intending to take to get a particular job done?” and “What is the circumstance surrounding this action?” Resist asking them “how” they are currently getting the job done via a particular solution. This comes later.

Begin by articulating a job action statement. A good job action statement begins with an action verb followed by the object of that action. A contextual clarifier is added to the end of the statement to indicate the circumstance in which the job is being executed. An accurate and concise job action statement naturally unfolds into a job story.

Say a person tells you that they need to book a hotel room. You might be tempted to say that the job is simply, “Book a hotel room”. But this definition constrains the focus to a specific job solution, not the job to be done. Your focus should be helping customers get the job done better by any means possible. Remember, customers are loyal to the job, not current solutions. As such, they always migrate to solutions that help them get jobs done better and this is the whole point of innovation.

A better job action statement is, “Reserve a place to stay while out of town”. Reserve is an action verb and the object of that action is “a place to stay”. The contextual clarifier is, “while out of town”. This job action statement points you in the right direction for further inquiry.

A good job action statement should not specify a particular solution that might be used to get the job done like “hotel” in the previous example. This is important because later you will create a job map based on this statement that unfolds the logic of the job action you are defining here. For reasons that will become clear, you want to focus on the job, not solutions at this stage of inquiry.