Specifically in Enterprise B2B, involving customers early during Product Discovery may turn out to be very beneficial for both, the customers as well as the product team. Customer Discovery Program is a method to implement such an involvement.
Involving Customers in Discovery
Recall that Product Discovery is essentially an iterative process to reduce uncertainties around a customer problem or product idea. The objective is to mitigate Understanding the Four Risks in Product Development before investing heavily into Product Delivery.
A Customer Discovery Program (CDP) applies this concept by working together with selected customers during such a Product Discovery iteration. So, essentially, a CDP means involving interested customers in the journey as described for Double Diamond or Adaptable Product Discovery. Such a program mostly makes sense for bigger topics, themes that are continued over a longer period of time.
We are discovering and developing a set of reference customers in parallel with discovering and developing the actual product.
Marty Cagan: INSPIRED, chapter 39.
Specifically, the Customer Discovery Program may help
- to understand the actual problems and pain points of customers in an area a new product or solution shall be developed for
- to validate the ideas and solutions as early as possible with real customers / users
- to win reference customers for the new solution
- to support Sales and Marketing by providing them some sales playbook based on reference customers
The Customer Discovery Program does not
- aim at serving just 1 or 2 customers – if we not even a handful of customers can be recruited, isn't this an indication already for lack of interest?
- mean bespoke feature development – this entire space is about Product Management, so refers to product businesses, not professional service companies.
- imply that all requirements of the participating customers will be addressed – rather the objective is to work on a joint solution which mean that particular ideas or feature request might get discarded or postponed.
- simply follow a list of feature requests or tickets – a CDP program clearly tackles bigger new topics rather than minor improvements.
- address all pain points of a customer – but rather all pain points in the context of a certain product idea that customers share.