Before an attempt is made to capture the customer’s needs for the purpose of innovation, fredsparks methodology requires that a company first understand exactly what job the customer is trying to get done.
This is accomplished by conducting customer interviews to understand the discrete process steps that comprise the job. The breakdown of the job into these discrete steps is translated graphically into a job or behavior map. Job or behavior mapping has many benefits. Its primary purpose is to provide a framework around which to capture and organize need statements and to ensure that all the customer’s needs are captures. Without this insight, a researcher will never know where questioning should be focused or whether or not all the customer’s needs have been uncovered. This has been another ongoing problem with traditional “voice-of-the-customer” [VOC] methods.
The goal of innovation is to devise new product and service concepts that address unmet needs. The best way to accomplish this is to first uncover ALL the customer’s needs, then determine which are unmet, and then devise solutions that address them. Traditional VOC practices are ineffective because companies are incapable of capturing or knowing when they have captures all the customer’s needs. VOC group methods, such as affinity diagrams, not only create an imprecise structure for knowing whether all needs have been captures, but also limit the level of detail at which a market can be studied. This thinking is restricting and self-serving: it makes the life of the practitioner easier, but at the expense of getting to the level of detail needed to achieve higher success rates. With a focus on the job, customers are able to articulate all their needs regarding its execution. If a customer has 100 or more different, detailed needs, why wouldn’t a company want to understand exactly which ones represent the best opportunities for innovation?