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“you need to learn how customers behave and what they need. In other words, focus on their problem, not their suggested solution.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“The more interviews I did, the more I felt I could tell the difference between people who were trying to be nice and people who really had a problem that I could solve.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“I averaged 10–15 customer interviews per week (and some weeks, many more).”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“The best indicator that you’re done is that you stop hearing people say things that surprise you.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“there is no point where you should stop doing customer development entirely.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“The truth is that it doesn’t matter how much companies research, how well they plan, how much money they spend, or how smart their employees are: the odds that they’ll avoid big mistakes are worse than a flip of a coin.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Confirmation bias is our innate tendency to pay more attention to information that confirms our beliefs.[”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“If TiVo had interviewed customers about how they program their VCRs, they might have gotten feedback that drove them to simplify the programming controls and missed the boat on creating the digital video recording industry. In fact, that’s exactly what the first attempts at improving the VCR looked like.[30] Compare that to asking customers about the time they missed the last 10 minutes of the final episode of Twin Peaks or the game-winning play in the Super Bowl — it’s easy to imagine how quickly (and emphatically) customers would’ve told you about the problems that inspired pausing live TV, recording by show name instead of time slot, and fast-forwarding through commercials.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Product development answers the question “When (and what) can they buy?” Customer development answers the question “Will they buy it?”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“MVP doesn’t mean that we’re delivering a broken experience. The design and functionality can be high quality; we are just supporting fewer use cases.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Everything you do in customer development is centered around testing hypotheses.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“You don’t need to learn what customers say they want; you need to learn how customers behave and what they need. In other words, focus on their problem, not their suggested solution.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Avoiding the Wish List Some people will evade your questions and say, “Here’s what I want.” They’ll start listing features and options; I’ve even had people start sketching mockups in coffee shop meetings! On the surface, this sounds amazing: a prospective customer practically writing your product requirements for you. The truth is different: thousands of failed products are created based on what customers said they wanted. You’ve probably worked on at least one of them in the past.[45] You don’t need to learn what customers say they want; you need to learn how customers behave and what they need. In other words, focus on their problem, not their suggested solution.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“the more you talk, the less you will learn from your customer,”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“What customers ask for is constrained by what they already know and is often not the best solution.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“You need to stop thinking of customer support as a crew of responsive hole-patchers that deal with problems as they come up, but instead as investigators who have privileged access to the information that holds the key to the future of your business: customer insights. — Dan Martell, CEO of Clarity”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“If someone says maybe, write it down as no.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Customer support is not just a cost to make problems go away; it’s a listening post. — Darius Dunlap”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“The best signals about what’s wrong come from customer support.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“KISSmetrics design”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Forget about what’s possible. If you could wave a magic wand and solve anything, what would you do?”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Key Takeaways Use the five basic customer development questions to get customers talking — then ask them for more details about their answers. Ask open-ended questions so that customers go beyond the surface. Find out what they’re doing today. Their current behavior is your competition. Abstract up a level to get perspective. Focus on actual versus aspirational behavior. Instead of asking, “How likely would you be to X?”, ground your prompts in the recent past (“Tell me about the last time you...” or “In the past month, how many times ...”). Be aware of mental blocks customers may have (not perceiving the problem as a problem, thinking it can’t be fixed, having limited resources, having expectations that limit their behaviors) and ask questions to help move beyond those blocks. Find out if there are other stakeholders involved in making decisions (family, managers, friends, etc.).”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Minimum means that you are focusing on how to learn with the smallest investment of time and resources. If you find yourself planning an MVP that will take months to build, it’s probably not minimum. If you can’t explain your MVP in a couple of sentences, it’s probably not minimum.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Validation simply means that you’re confident enough to continue investing time and effort in this direction.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“One of the biggest demotivators that I’ve run across, in multiple contexts, is uncertainty. Being unsure of how a service will work, or how to best interact with a product, creates such a high level of discomfort that customers may choose to disengage.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“thousands of failed products are created based on what customers said they wanted.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“If you remain quiet, most people will then continue to talk,[42] and it’s usually those details — not the summary — that contain the useful insights.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“The hard part about figuring out what customers want is figuring out that you need to figure it out.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy
“Great products require deep human empathy: you can’t solve for that without talking to the customer early and often.”
Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy

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