What is customer validation?
Customer validation is an essential step in the process of developing a product. It helps you ensure you build something people will buy.
In the initial stages of building a product, you make assumptions about the problem you’re solving. You make assumptions about your customers and the market. Customer validation tests these assumptions to help you build a solid business model.
Why is customer validation important?
If you build a product based on a hunch, you won’t have a sustainable business model.
You must conduct customer validation to ensure people will pay money for your product.
Validating that your product is the right solution to your customers’ problem allows you to verify your hypotheses.
When you have solid feedback from potential customers, you can make iterations to the product to reach product-market fit.
If you take your product to market without proper customer validation, you can end up wasting a lot of time and resources. You’ll also waste funds on marketing something people don’t want to buy.
Customer validation helps you reduce risk and make informed decisions about the future of your product. It allows you to use evidence and not hearsay to take the following steps.
When should you conduct customer validation?
The first stage of your product development process should be customer discovery. Spend some time finding out who your customers would be and how you would reach them.
Start with customer interviews to get an understanding of the current situation in your market.
Once you know exactly who you want to sell your solution to, it’s time to conduct customer validation.
What do you need to validate?
There are three areas you need to validate at this stage of your product development:
Make sure there’s enough of a market to sell your product. If you have a very niche business with a small number of potential customers who would only buy from you once in their life, there may not be a justifiable need for your business to exist.
Is the problem you solve with your product big enough for people to part with their cash to solve it? Remember to ask non-leading questions when asking potential customers about their problem.
The last stage in your customer validation research is your product. If you establish there is a market for your product that solves a valid problem, you need to find out if your solution is what the customer wants.
What’s the customer validation process?
- Create your hypothesis
What assumptions do you have about your customer and the current market? Use your preliminary discovery interviews to inform this hypothesis.
- Assess the state of the current market
Use your research to make some predictions for how many people you can reach, check out your competitors and see how much of the market they hold. Check out online search volumes to understand if there’s a market need for your product.
- Conduct customer interviews
Ask your potential customers about their needs and how they currently solve the problem you have a solution for. After this, ask them for specific feedback on your solution.
- Test your product
Create a landing page where people can sign up to hear about your launch. Reach out to potential customers to gauge how much interest there would be if you launched.
10 things to remember for customer validation
- Founders and product managers often assume they know their market better than they do.
- Be prepared to be wrong. Your assumptions may be way off.
- It’s better to find out you’re wrong early on than waste loads of money on building something nobody wants.
- Listen to the feedback you receive when you complete your initial customer discovery.
- Don’t listen to your friends, family, and colleagues. They aren’t your target market.
- Don’t be afraid to make changes to your product or pivot completely.
- Be prepared to reiterate constantly.
- Use evidence to make decisions, not assumptions.
- Don’t take feedback (good or bad) as the final word. Keep asking questions, and keep testing.
- Don’t ask leading questions. For example, ‘how do you solve X problem.’ Questions like these assume the interviewee experiences the problem you want to solve. They may not experience this pain point at all.