One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology – Steve Jobs
Drucker suggests that understanding the “wants, needs and aspirations” of your customers is the first step to creating value for them.
Design provides different tools to go out of the office, in the field to understand the customer. You can use observation techniques, semi-structured interviews, card sorting to get a deeper insight, ethnography to get a real sense of the context of customers and insight into why they do what they do.
Once you are back from the field, Empathy map provides a way to capture the various observations. (Download the PDF here)
As the Stanford d.School method card explains (PDF):
Once we start to aggregate the empathy map information for many customers, we will start to find patterns of the different needs, wants and aspirations for customers.
The d.School provides a way to capture that insight in a statement:
Rather than beginning with shiny new technology, we start by trying to establish deep, personal empathy with our users to determine their needs and wants. We must fill in two blanks: Our users need a better way to ___ BECAUSE ___. The because portion is a big deal.
In my experience this is a easy method for you to learn. This is the first step towards finding the “job to be done” for your customers.