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Understanding customer needs through the lens of jobs to be done

By Andrew Johnson • 19 November 2022

Product experts and philosophers like Dr Clayton M. Christensen believe that people don't buy a product but hire a solution that is accomplished by using that product. Further, he adds to the explanation that when a job is done flawlessly utilising a product, it is hired again by the customer.

Understanding customer needs through the lens of jobs to be done

But, if the product does an unsatisfying job, the customer fires the outcome and looks for a better solution.

With the words of the wise, we look into developing a product oriented towards the targeted customers' needs. Such a lens will enhance your product's problem-solving capabilities, allow tapping into various customer needs - met or unmet, and confidently grow your product with innovation. We need to look into it through the jobs to be done lens to build unique products or services for onboarding more customers with every usage.

For this, let's understand how the jobs-to-be-done framework helps address customer needs better.

What is the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework?

The jobs-to-be-done framework is designed as an activity that defines the customer requirements and their desired outcomes to empower businesses and startups in building the optimum products and services. The framework forces you to interact with your product using the customer's viewpoints and pain points.

It helps product developers design the product or service in response to the "things to be done" by the customers through that solution. Many winning product companies are applying the jobs-to-be-done lens for understanding their customer needs measurement metrics, which has pushed many businesses to design for jobs that the user needs, aspires, or wants to be done.

How Jobs-To-Be-Done Predicts Customer Wants?

The theory is applied to understand what motivates the customers to buy your product or service. But, it's not just limited to what the customer needs. It goes steps ahead of this and finds out how the customer can solve those needs, what factors can affect the customer's decisions, how long it takes to get the jobs done, how much it costs to complete those jobs with different solutions, etc.

For example, if a customer wants a pair of shoes, from an everyday perspective, the customer just wants a pair of shoes. But, from the jobs-to-be-done lens, it means the customer wants a solution to walk and run in comfortable and good quality shoes that fit its budget and provide durability and aesthetics to the look.

Now you understand what magic the jobs-to-be-done lens brings in understanding and addressing various customer pain points by designing the solution around them.

Also, you don't need to satisfy all the needs that your customers desire. The framework allows you to choose the customer needs your product can serve the best in terms of quality, cost, experience, and time to finish the job.

How To Define Customer Needs Statement With Jobs-To-Be-Done?

With a correctly defined customer needs statement, you can aid the product development team understand their needs and how they will execute them to complete those jobs on time. Here's how you can construct your customer needs statement:

When the customer needs (situation) + the customer wants to (motivation) + so that the customer achieves (desired outcome)

For example, if we talk about Zoom or Google Meet product services. When John needs to get project work done (situation), he wants to easily connect with the team members (motivation) so that they can successfully deliver the project tasks within the deadline (desired outcome).

With the jobs-to-be-done framework, we can break down the complete journey of the customer needs and build the solution-oriented product features which solve those needs in the least time, at least cost, and with the least effort.

Also, solutions are innovation-led rather than product-led when your focus is through the JTBD lens. Because the consumers don't fancy the process but how a problem is solved through the product/ service.

In this process, businesses need not prepare customer segmentation based on demographics, etc., as the same demographic users can have different jobs and solutions to be done. Therefore, you need to prepare the customer segments according to their needs or assignments to be done, along with the desired outcome sets.

How JTBD Helps In Finding Customer Needs - Met or Unmet

With the jobs-to-be-done framework, you can organise your consumer research to determine users' requirements and how they want to fulfil their needs. Understanding this process will help you predict the product features precisely fitting the customers' demand.

Such an approach helps the product teams compare different ideas and case scenarios to inform the ideal value addition to the product from the standpoint of desired customer outcomes.

Also, the JTBD lens helps maintain the alignment between the customer challenges in getting jobs done and the solutions more straightforwardly. As a result, your product delivers only those features which solve the customer's job objectives, excluding any other unnecessary components in the product.

Additionally, you need to have proper customer requirements prioritisation for your team. Even while your customers may experience different issues, only a few have a lasting impact on their lives. Therefore, your focus should be on those customer needs, primarily underserved and not getting proper solutions.

The buyers are interested in your products only if they benefit their needs. They can easily discard your product after one use if they find a product that does the job better in terms of cost, quality, and time. However, the demand must be fulfilled until customer satisfaction ends. This happens to companies who stop developing and improving their product performance and take their customer's feedback for granted.

Your customer's needs or jobs have social and emotional purposes too. You must focus on more than just the product's efficiency and usability in delivering the customer's core functional jobs. It has to interact with the social and emotional needs of the customers, which become crucial factors in deciding the purchase in this fast-paced competitive environment.

Therefore, your product should fulfil the customer's needs by looking into all the dimensions of the jobs to be done framework - emotional, social, core jobs, financial constraints, and supply chain jobs like installing, maintenance and repairs, returns, etc. Let's understand the process with a live case study example of a product.

Case Study: Understand Customer Needs Of A SaaS Product

Step 1: Customer Needs Identification

At this point, the main objective is to determine every possible customer need through surveys and third-party data analysis. Here you can find what your customers are attempting to accomplish, their challenges in the journey, and the ideal solutions they desire to get the outcome.

Step 2: Customer Needs Segmentation

Here you have to categorise the customer needs or tasks into the JTBD categories based on their met and unmet needs. Also, you can further make different sets of unmet customer needs for precise product development catering to those needs. For example, building an instant grocery delivery app would include synchronous and asynchronous communication between the store and the customer. Further, you can add additional jobs into the segment, like setting up the desired grocery list beforehand.

Step 3: Jobs Map Creation

These job maps outline the steps a customer makes to complete a particular job. The customer can act in a specific sequence or differently from other customers, which is why the process is only sometimes homogeneous.

Step 4: Jobs Selection For Product Development

As said earlier, you cannot keep everyone happy. Similarly, you have to focus on the jobs you can deliver in the best possible way to your customers and develop the features of your product in line with those jobs.

The customers repeatedly engage with the products to complete the jobs, which provides them ease of access and completion and is effortless to perform.


With the jobs-to-be-done lens, you can easily prepare the list of met and unmet customer needs for a perfect product/ service delivery. This framework makes your product flexible and adaptable enough to tackle present, and future customer needs and challenges without affecting your market growth.

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