• Alan Cornford

Discovery & Delight Emotional-Functional Customer Love Example

Updated: Feb 22

A Methodology for discovering "Customer Love" for Electric Cars Pre-Tesla

In the last few pieces we described several steps in the early phase of the innovation journey that included:

  1. Problemation - The HXC (High Expectation Customer) already knows her/his problem and is struggling with it. Customer questionnaires collect their highest priority specific problem needs while data analyses may differentiate between met and unmet needs and their importance to the customer.

  2. Ideation - The innovative idea is then generated based on resolving the highest priority HXC emotion-function fit unmet need(s) derived from problemation discovery customer surveys. The idea is the basis for the positioning hypothesis that will resolve the HXC emotional-functional challenge. Solution features are then articulated in the job-to-be-done job story.

  3. Experimentation - Idea solution tests are conducted via an ML-VP (minimum lovable-viable product) to confirm that the HXC challenges are being successfully met through innovation.

  4. M-PFit (Market-Product Fit) - Questionnaire surveys regarding the level of customer satisfaction are conducted and responses are segmented based on HXC personas (to provide a solution that will achieve the MPF Ellis metric).

  5. Seed financing – Early investment success is largely based upon demonstrated (HXC) proof of "customer love" for the solution.

Pre-Tesla - The Challenge of Buying an Electric Car

Innovation begins with a market problem. It is important to define the problem domain and specific job challenge well in order to discover customers' unmet needs that will provide the basis for a suitable innovative solution. An important method of gathering customer information and insights is by carefully crafted sets of questions that will surface the real source of the problem and emotional and functional customer needs. Listen well - do not try to sell them an idea or solution to their needs...listen, listen! To dig deeper and get more context you may ask a series of 'whys' for each question.

For our example, the problem relates to buying an electric car before Tesla came into the market. Our customer is a very accomplished, distinguished and affluent business woman with a big ego.

A first set of questions seek to discover data for each of the first 4 elements in the value framework.

  1. What is the hardest part about this problem (doing this job)?

  2. Tell me about the last time you encountered that problem.

  3. Why was that hard?

  4. What have you done, if anything to try to solve the problem?

  5. What don’t you love about the solutions you have tried?

The questions are provided in a google form and responses are collected in an xls document.

Together these data help devise a "problem statement". For our electric car example:

It is important to review all responses together to ascertain if several key problem attributes exist.

  1. Is the problem small or big, a nuisance or severe?

  2. Is it a common/wide-spread market problem?

  3. Is it frequent, urgent and/or recurring?

Since every need is contextual for a particular person, time and end goal, each need will have an emotional and a functional aspect. To guide what to look for, emotional needs may relate to

(i) avoiding a loss;

(ii) personal gain; or

(iii) social gain.

Functional needs may relate to

(i) use;

(ii) technical specifications or

(iii) economic considerations.

For our electric car example, functional need benefits may highlight

(i) usability and

(ii) performance, while functional cost may be

(iii) high purchase price.

Emotional need benefits may include

(i) maintain status and

(ii) environmental wellness, while a cost may be

(iii) unpleasant to use as shown next.

For those respondents that are highly engaged with the problem (which Julie Supan calls high expectation customers (HXC)), you will also want to follow up with a second set of questions to probe a little deeper and try to understand the relative importance of each emotional and functional need either on a qualitative scale (low, medium or high) or on a more quantitative scale of 1 - 10.

You will also want to assess the level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction of key existing solutions for each of these needs qualitatively (low, medium or high) or quantitatively on a scale of 1 - 10.

1. What are your needs to do the job perfectly?

  • Emotions needs Importance (1-10)

  • Results needs Importance (1-10)

2. What solutions do you use now & your level of satisfaction?

  • Existing Solution Need satisfaction (1-10)

More quantitative responses may be plotted on a two dimensional graph to facilitate analysis. Where there is alignment of the importance ranking of both emotional and related functional needs - that is "wins-results fit", this synergy reinforces relationships that matter in the innovative solution. A few importance rankings are shown for our electric car example for 5 functional needs - acceleration, range, style, price and environment - as well as 5 emotional needs - status, responsible, performance, distance angst and affordability.

Existing solutions provide a benchmark in the market place. If the problem is important enough there will always be one or more existing solutions. But often these solutions will only satisfy some needs (called "met needs") leaving others unsatisfied ("unmet needs") that present opportunities for new innovative solutions.

The customer ranking of satisfaction of existing solutions for each of the customer emotional and functional needs is illustrated next on a colorized scale from 1 - 10.

In our example, the customer has ranked each of the 5 functional and 5 emotional needs for 3 types of existing electric cars - the leaf, the volt and the BMW. All have received quite low scores for our status conscious buyer. Examples of wins-results fit pairs are also noted for environment-responsibility and style-status.

When the average need satisfaction rankings are plotted against the importance rankings in a two dimensional graph, the needs that are well satisfied by existing solutions are called "met needs". Those that are of high importance but low satisfaction are called "unmet needs". There may be "wins-results fit" in many of these unmet needs indicating priorities for job story features for initial MLVP tests that are conducted to reconfirm these insights.

Plotting customer needs observations in 3D provides an additional advantage. The types of needs may be separated in the third dimension to permit much better distinction among specific types of needs for specific customer segments. Word cloud data analysis (or AI insight engine) may also significantly assist in this differentiation and pattern recognition along with visual plotting of the results.

Plotting customer needs observations in 3D also provides a capability to potentially align emotional and functional needs - wins-results fit - reinforcing the selection of priority "unmet needs" for initial MLVP feature targeting. 3D plots provide a more wholistic view of problem domain(s), potential customer segments and types of market needs, so that ongoing market-product fit tests can focus in on particular "High Expectation Customer" (HXC) personas that may anchor the venture.

This is what Tesla did on entering the electric car market. The first high end roadster catered to the affluent racing car enthusiasts. The main customer value proposition was performance-acceleration fit and peace of mind-range fit in an elegant roadster. The second version - for our egotistical lady, Tesla combined status with style - status-style fit - in a family sedan. And the third version Model 3 combined all of these along with range and affordability-price fit to address the later adopter market.

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I've been working as a software engineer for over 10 years now. In that time my definition of what an innovative company is and how one comes about has changed time and time again. It first started wi