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RSC Level 2 Module 7:  What Does The Customer Really Want?


Step 1) Overview:

How do you craft a customer value proposition that delights the customer?  It is difficult to discern what delights a customer without insight into what the customer really wants: the customer does not necessarily articulate this; even when they articulate their needs they do not necessarily give you accurate, actionable information. 

In a competitive marketplace you have to keep your company on the cutting edge of customer satisfaction. Innovation is the single most important activity that creates and maintains your competitive edge yet innovation success rates are shockingly low.  Historically, managers focus on customer profiles and on correlations uncovered in data.  We tend not to pay attention to what customers are trying to achieve in a particular situation, what “job” they are expecting your product or service to do.  Research done in 2012-17 suggests that successful innovators identify “poorly performed jobs” and design products



Step 2) Action Learning: Please watch Video A and Video B below.

Video A is an 5-minute segment from Harvard Business School’s Professor Christenson who asserts (1)When you focus on the customer you are focusing on the wrong unit of analysis (2)The most useful information about what the customer really wants is obtained by articulating the customer’s job to be done.  Using the example of the “car as an office” we learn how important it is to get behind what the customer says to uncover what job the customer wants done.  When a customer goes to Home Depot and asks for a quarter inch drill bit what the customer really wants is a quarter inch hole – the drill bit is just the means to get the job done. 


Video B is an 8-minute segment from Professor Christenson using a project that McDonald’s used to get a refined understanding of the customer’s job-to-be-done in the business of selling milkshakes.  It illustrates how misleading customer information can be until you get to the heart of what the customer is really trying to get done.  More importantly, it walks your step-by-step through the process of uncovering the job-to-be-done.

Step 3) Points to Ponder: 

1) Describe a typical customer need that you routinely address through in your current position.  Do you recollect any unexpected insights you gained into what the customer really wants?  Any lessons learned?

2) How do you think of the customer’s job-to-be done if the only customers you serve are internal customers?  What are the differences (if any) between an internal customer and an external customer?

3) How would you adapt the method used in the milkshake example in Video B to suit your work? Any lessons learned?




Step 4) Interactive Discussion:After viewing Videos A & B and exploring the Points to Ponder check your calendar for the Interactive Discussion scheduled for this Module.  Go to the session prepared to discuss the lessons learned with others in your Rising Star cohort.  If you have any questions or need more information please send a message to


Step 5) Next Level (Optional): Read the reference “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice” (2016) by Clayton M. Christensen , Karen Dillon, Taddy Hall & D.S. Duncan published by Harper Business ISBN-13: 978-0062435613.

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