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Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) refers to a framework, in which optimizations or new developments of products and services are not considered by the provider  but being developed based on customer needs. This will be possible by collecting and analyzing  how and why customers start and stop using certain products and services. Hence, the jobs-to-be-done are an approach to a needs analysis.

The simple basic thought: customers use products and services not merely for pure joy , but “order” them to solve problems – to finish a so-called “job”. On the one hand, jobs can be functionally oriented, for instance my car brings me from A to B.  A functional job is usually the same as the intended primary purpose of use of a product or service and is adequately taken into account in development.  On the other hand, jobs may reflect emotional and social needs, for instance a car being an expression of status and bringing me acceptance (socially) and thus strengthening my self-worth (emotional). Jobs-to-be-done may be used to uncover such emotional and social jobs and to become aware of them for the development phase.  Especially emotional and social jobs require to take into account that they can possibly also be addressed by products and services from other branches, e.g. I can achieve social acceptance also by acquiring different luxury products than a car.

The knowledge of the possible largest number of jobs that customers want to be handled supports an attractive value promise (value proposition). After all, if a job has been handled or a problem resolved for a customer this is experienced as progress in one’s own life, hence a gain is created.  If difficulties are imminent to handle a job, customer experience dissatisfaction (pain). The more jobs the products and services of a provider deliver satisfactorily, the higher the value for the customer and the more they will prefer one provider over another.

It does not matter whether you develop completely new products/services or optimize existing ones, whether you understand the users of your products or want to prevent a change: Jobs-to-be-done will help you thoroughly understand customer needs, explaining customer conducts and to anticipate future customer decisions.  This approach is equally suitable for B2C and B2B applications. Jobs-to-be-done can also be used to enrich existing customer segments, for instance by identifying typical jobs for the respective segments.

The key to customer-centric innovation

Optimizations and new developments of products and services are successful when they are aligned with the customers’ needs. Jobs-to-be-done helps: Customer conduct is used along the entire perception and decision-making process, from purchase to use and to change. Hampering and fostering factors, motifs and decision-making criteria are being analyzed. In this way we learn,

  1. what needs your customers have,
  2. which solutions they are currently using to meet these needs,
  3. and what tells customers that a solution meets the needs (well),
  4. which needs have been met,
  5. in which field your product or service handles the «jobs» better than the competition and fulfills or possibly fulfills them,
  6. which other products or services could also meet the “jobs” and thus will have to be considered indirect competition.

The knowledge of whether the “jobs” can satisfactorily meet the customers’ needs helps you focus on the key and success delivering characteristics.  Long before the launch – even at the beginning of an idea – can check the possible success of the new solution. This allows for targeted and thus efficient innovation processes.

Isabella Bertschi
Isabella Bertschi
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