How to Conduct Effective Jobs-to-Be-Done (JTBD) Interviews

Conducting Jobs-to-Be-Done (JTBD) interviews is a powerful way to understand your customers’ true motivations and needs. These interviews help uncover the underlying reasons why customers choose certain products or services, allowing you to design better solutions and improve customer satisfaction.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to conducting JTBD interviews, including key questions, tips, and techniques.

Setting up the Jobs-to-be-Done Interview

1. Create a Casual Environment

Start by setting a relaxed and conversational tone. Avoid making the interview feel like a formal interrogation. You can say something like, “I’m doing some early research to understand how people talk about using our product. There’s no right or wrong answer here. We just want to learn more about your experiences and how our product fits into your life.”

2. Be Prepared but Flexible

While having a general structure is important, JTBD interviews should be flexible. Don’t follow a strict script. Instead, let the conversation flow naturally and follow up on interesting points as they arise.

Key Four Forces of Progress Questions To Ask

Below are some starter questions for you to kickstart your thought process.

1. Push Questions

These questions help you understand what frustrations or needs pushed the customer to seek a new solution.

  • “What were you struggling with that led you to look for a new product?”
  • “Why did you decide to address this issue now?”
  • “What didn’t you like about your previous solution?”

2. Pull Questions

These questions focus on what the customer hopes to achieve with a new product.

  • “What are you hoping to accomplish with this new product?”
  • “How do you think your life will improve after using it?”
  • “What benefits are you looking forward to?”

3. Anxiety Questions

These questions aim to uncover any concerns or reservations the customer has.

  • “What worries did you have about switching to a new product?”
  • “What were your biggest concerns about our product before you purchased it?”
  • “Were there any risks you considered before making the switch?”

4. Habit Questions

These questions explore what customers are willing to change or keep the same.

  • “What were you willing to give up to get a better solution?”
  • “What are you not willing to compromise on?”
  • “How did your daily routine change after adopting our product?”

Techniques for Effective JTBD Interviews

1. Use Details to Jog Memory

Ask specific, detailed questions to help interviewees recall their experiences more vividly. For example, “What was the weather like when you decided to buy the product?” or “Who was with you when you made the decision?” These details can help trigger deeper memories and insights.

2. Context Creates Meaning

Understanding the context of the customer’s decision is crucial. If an answer seems irrational, dig deeper to uncover the full story. For instance, “I bought the pizza because we won the big game and wanted to celebrate” provides much more context than “I like pizza.”

3. Contrast for Clarity

Use contrasting questions to help customers articulate their preferences. For example, “Why did you choose to use our service instead of driving to the store?” This helps highlight the specific advantages of your product.

4. Unpack Vague Words

When customers use vague terms like “easy” or “fast,” ask follow-up questions to clarify. “What do you mean by ‘easy’?” or “Can you give me an example of what ‘fast’ means to you?” This ensures you understand their specific needs and expectations.

5. Listen for Energy

Pay attention to the energy and emotion in the customer’s responses. Enthusiastic or hesitant tones can provide clues about their true feelings. If you notice an energy shift, probe further with questions like, “Tell me more about why that was important to you.”

6. Play “Dumb”

Sometimes, pretending not to understand can encourage customers to explain their thoughts in more detail. Statements like “I’m not sure I understand; can you explain that to me?” can prompt more in-depth responses.

7. Set Up Bad Questions

If a question feels too personal or sensitive, frame it as a bad question to lower defences. “This might be a bit personal, but could you tell me why you decided to see a doctor?”

8. Use Analogies

When customers struggle to articulate their thoughts, analogies can help. Ask them to compare the product to something else they are familiar with. “How is buying a phone like buying a laptop?”

9. Interview in Pairs

Having two interviewers can be beneficial. One can take notes while the other leads the conversation. This also allows for a “good cop, bad cop” dynamic, where one interviewer can ask tougher questions while the other provides support and builds rapport.

Conducting JTBD interviews effectively requires a mix of preparation, flexibility, and deep empathy. Understanding your customers’ true motivations and struggles helps you create products and services that better satisfy their needs and drive greater satisfaction. Use these tips and techniques to get to the heart of what drives your customers’ decisions and improve your offerings accordingly.