What Is Customer Validation?
The customer validation phase of product development is crucial in order to test assumptions and hypotheses about the customer problem, target market, and product. This is done in order to gain insights that can be used to iterate the product and find the right market fit. Validation also connects the product with viable prospects and paves the way to building meaningful products people want and need – which is why it’s such an essential component of taking a product from concept to market availability.
What Is Customer Validation to a Product Manager?
Customer validation is essential for product managers who want to make informed decisions about their products. By validating problems, solutions, and pain points, PMs can get a better sense of the market, the problem they’re trying to solve, and the product itself.
As Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and customer development thought leader, explains: “To build products that people want and will really use, founders first need to validate the problem/need, then understand whether their solution solves that problem (i.e., finding product/market fit).”
Unvalidated assumptions are often the root cause of failure, even when you have an excellent product. customer validation doesn’t offer a 100% success rate, but it’s the most straightforward and low-cost method to reduce the risk for new products.
When Does Customer Validation Take Place?
It’s important to validate customers’ needs as early on in the product development process as possible, before investing too much time and resources into building a new product. Jim Semick, ProductPlan’s Founder & Chief Strategist, writes that your hypothesis doesn’t need to be perfect, but you should have a good idea of who you want to speak to and what problems they’re facing that your product could help address. Having a concrete idea of these things early on will save you time and energy in the long run.
The first step in the validation process is documenting your assumptions, target audience, goals, and product value. Then, you need to create a minimum viable product (MVP), which is a product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate your assumptions.
Once the MVP is ready, it’s time to reach out to your target customers for feedback. Surveys and customer validation interviews are two common methods.
Finally, use the insights gained during the customer validation process to inform your product decisions and iterate on your product.
Why Should a PM Care?
PMs want to build products that are valuable to customers and solve their problems. Validation done early enough in the product development cycle lets PMs know if they are on the right track and building a product that has a good market fit.
Customer validation has these benefits:
* Proves that customers will buy and use your product
* Enables product teams to make changes early in the development process
* Saves resources and development time that would be wasted building a product no one wants
In order to build confidence and support for a product with investors or internal stakeholders, product managers should approach the customer validation process with a curious mind and use insights to iterate and build a great product people will actually purchase and use. By taking this approach, PMs can increase the chances of success for their product.