What Is Customer Discovery? Definition and Process

Max 4min read
Customer Discovery

In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, mere ideas don’t cut it anymore. To bring a product or service to life, one must delve into the psyche of the target audience – and that’s where the art of customer discovery comes in. 

This dynamic process allows you to extract profound insights into your prospective customers’ needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can better tailor your offerings to their needs, establishing a connection that’s not only profitable but also meaningful. 

Prepare to take a journey of discovery with us as we explore the nuances of this indispensable art, highlight common pitfalls to avoid, and reveal expert tips to make your customer discovery journey successful.

What Is Customer Discovery?

Customer Discovery Definition:

Customer discovery is an initial process of learning about your potential customers and understanding their needs, wants, and pain points. 

It applies to early-stage startups, targeting new personas, and intermediate companies crafting new products. 

The Process of Customer Discovery

Remember that the customer discovery process can sometimes be tedious and frustrating since you invest much time and money. However, know that it all pays for the good in the end.

Establishing a Hypothesis

A hypothesis you come up with will include the problem and the solution. Use this statement template to help you discover your hypothesis: “My idea addresses (the problem) by (your solution).” 

Specificity is essential in this step. One problem is equal to one solution. 

Specifying the Assumptions

Establishing a hypothesis means assuming certain assumptions. This includes you assuming that:

  • The issue you will be addressing is a real problem that people are facing
  • Your solution can solve the problem effectively
  • Your target market is facing this problem,
  • Knowing that your customers are willing to pay for your solution. 

Pro tip: create a customer persona or a hypothetical customer profile 

Asking the Right Questions 

Once you’re clear on who your ideal customer is, start by asking the right questions, primarily open-ended ones. We will discuss the right questions in more detail further in this article. 

Pro Tip: Use CRM software to help you with seamless customer information sharing, retention, etc. 

Assessing and Refining

You should analyze the feedback you receive from your target customers and use it to refine your hypothesis and assumptions. This may involve iterating on your product or service concept, adjusting your messaging or positioning, or reconsidering your target market or channels.

Tools and Methods for Customer Discovery

Some common customer discovery tools and techniques are interviewing, lo-fi testing, ethnographic research, and journey mapping. 

One-on-one interviews are a great way to gather in-depth qualitative data from your target market. When you conduct interviews, make sure to avoid false positives. This is when you ask questions to seek validation and get a response for what you want to hear. 

Ethnography is another customer discovery tool that involves observing the customer’s day-to-day activities. 

Lo-fi testing, also known as low-fidelity testing, is a method of user testing that involves creating simple, low-cost prototypes to test early-stage product ideas. 

Lo-fi testing aims to gather feedback quickly and cost-effectively so that you can make changes before investing significant time and resources into developing a more refined prototype.

Journey mapping is a powerful tool for customer discovery. It involves visualizing and understanding the customer’s journey from their initial interaction with your product or service to their ultimate goal or objective. 

A customer journey map can help you identify pain points and opportunities for improvement and gain a deeper understanding of your customer’s needs and preferences.

Asking the Right Questions in Customer Discovery

Asking the right questions in customer discovery is critical to gaining valuable insights into your target market and refining your product or service offering.

  • Can you tell me about a time you experienced [insert the problem your product solves]?
  • What solutions have you tried in the past to address [the problem your product solves]?
  • What do you think is missing from the solutions you’ve tried in the past?
  • Which factors are most important when choosing a [product or service category]?
  • How much time/money do you typically invest in finding a solution for [the problem your product solves]?
  • Which features are most important to you in a [product or service category]?

Common Mistakes in Customer Discovery

  • Failing to do enough research before starting the customer discovery process
  • Talking to the wrong set of people
  • Focusing on features instead of benefits
  • Asking leading questions can bias responses and provide inaccurate data.
  • Making assumptions without testing them can lead to incorrect conclusions and poor decision-making.
  • Failing to listen to customer feedback can lead to missed opportunities and poor product development.
  • Not iterating on feedback.


What are the objectives of customer discovery?

Customer discovery aims to understand your target market’s needs, behaviors, and preferences to develop a product that meets those needs and creates value for them. 

By gaining insights into your target customer’s pain points and motivations, you can tailor your offering to address those needs and create a more compelling value proposition. This helps reduce the risk of failure of your product.

What are some examples of customer discovery?

We will look at two examples, one where customer discovery was considered essential and the other where it was not.

In their early days, the founders of Airbnb conducted extensive customer discovery to understand the needs and motivations of their target customers – travelers. They discovered that many travelers sought unique, affordable accommodations. The rest is history.

Microsoft launched Zune-the music player, to compete with the iPod, but they failed to conduct adequate customer discovery. They assumed that people wanted a more feature-rich device than the iPod, but customers valued its simplicity and ease of use. As a result, it failed to gain traction, and the company eventually discontinued it. 

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