Friday, June 14, 2013

The Customer's Timeline

We all look to hire a product or service when we have a job to be done. Thinking of it as 'hiring' is a powerful metaphor because few decisions are irrevocable. When we move from one solution to another, we are firing our current solution and in it's place, hiring another. You're thirsty but you're getting bored with water. Water will satisfy your thirst, but you've decided to fire that solution in favor of hiring juice. Water just doesn't get the job done right now.

What's happend here is the customer has moved from contentment with a current solution, through considering a change, to finally making a decision to either continue to hire the existing solution or to fire it and replace it with another.

This method of breaking down customer behaviour is of very much tied to the 'jobs to be done' philosophy. It's certainly tempting to think of the progression as linear; however, it's not.  Forces will pull customers towards and away a new product or behaviour. Depending on the strength, timing and circumstances of these forces, she will either continue to hire her existing solution or she will fire it and use another.

Current depictions of these forces and timelines depict them as linear, but I find it to be a long and winding road... a road which might take the customer back to their existing solution.

I drew up this picture to demonstrate how I see the customer timeline and how those forces pull us towards a new product...or might take us back to existing behavior.

The key is to effectively identify these events and to make the events (emotions) which push the customer towards a new product or behavior stronger than those pushing them towards an existing behaviour.... or to a competitor.