How to ensure you build the right product for your user? 🧑‍🏭️

May 23, 2023
Product & Growth

Ever wonder why so many startups meet their doom? Simple. They're building the stuff that nobody wants. Yep, 80% of products and features are rarely or never touched. Nada! That's because they're trying to solve problems that most customers couldn't care less about. Thankfully, Shreyas Doshi  - one of the top PMs on Twitter, has cooked up a nifty little recipe for success: an all-in-one framework for validating your brilliant (or not-so-brilliant) startup idea. It's been tried and tested at Stripe, so you know it's got to be good!

Introducing the Customer Problem Stack Ranking (CPSR) – a tool to help you figure out where your brainchild stands among your target customers' issues. No more guessing games! With CPSR, you'll get a data-backed answer on whether you're going for gold 🏆 or a total letdown 😒

 🕵 Avoiding the "Focused Customer" Trap with CPSR

When you chat with a customer about a specific problem, their brain naturally zooms in on it like it's the only thing in the world. Suddenly, solving that one problem becomes their only mission, making it seem way more important than it is.

Courtesy: Shaun Miller

That's where the ever-handy Customer Problem Stack Ranking (CPSR) swoops in to save the day! 🦸♂️ Instead of getting stuck on just one issue, this nifty method has them rank your problem against others they're battling in their business or organization.

Courtesy: Shaun Miller

Now, instead of a one-track mind, your customers will be able to see the bigger picture and prioritize the true importance of each problem. Plus, you'll get invaluable insights into how your solution stacks up against the competition. So say goodbye to obsessing over single issues and hello to a more realistic picture of where your idea truly stands. Let's understand the different steps of CPSR with a hypothetical app called MealFriends that's all about helping friends plan a group meal at a restaurant. 

🗣 Craft Your Sneaky Question

Whip up a low-key question that invites your customers to think about their problems, not your solution. Something like, "What's the most annoying thing about organizing a group dinner?" Keep it wide open so that they can share all the gory details of their struggles.

Let us take a hypothetical app MealFriends, which helps friends plan a group meal at a restaurant.  So the question is: What is frustrating about organising a group dinner?

💵 Turn Your Idea Into A Problem Statement

Don't straight-up ask customers if they like your idea. That's as useless as talking behind their backs. (They'll just lie to spare your feelings.) Turn your precious idea into a problem statement that will blend with other issues customers face.

For MealFriends, it could be: "Coordinating individual dietary preferences and restrictions is challenging when organizing a group dinner." You can create multiple problem statements to explore the pain points your idea might solve and the words your target customers might use to discuss their problem. 

📺  Create Peripheral Problem Statements

Add some sizzle to your list by cooking up problem statements on other issues customers face in the same domain. Some might seem unrelated to your concept, but that's the whole point. Diversity is everything! Let’s have a go at writing some peripheral problem statements for MealFriends:

  • Finding a restaurant that accommodates everyone's preferences can be tough.
  • Organizing a date and time that works for everyone is difficult.
  • Managing RSVPs and sending out reminders to attendees is time-consuming.
  • Selecting a location that is convenient for everyone to travel to can be a challenge.
  • Keeping track of who ordered what and splitting the bill at the end can cause stress.

 🕸 Send Your Stack Rank To Target Customers

Launch your survey to the most relevant folks - your potential customers. Get specific, or you'll end up with messy data that's as confusing as a conversation between a cat and a dog. For example, if I send my MealFriends CPSR to both professional event planners and casual friends organizing a get-together, they're going to have very different priority problems, and our data will get all messed up.

If you haven't got a pre-release waitlist, hit people's DMs on online communities, forums, and social media. Joined a few Slack/Discord communities where your potential users lie and send a cold outreach message. Do it consistently, and it would elicit a decent response rate. 

🌳 Iterate and go!

Flex those problem-solving muscles and keep perfecting your list. Sort every problem by importance, and voila! The ultimate truth is revealed. Is your idea a game-changer, or are you barking up the wrong tree? CPSR will show you the way!

How companies build products today!

Tool of the Day


This is a tool that can help in doing the CPSR survey for your potential customers. It helps you rank any list of problems, ideas or opinions to see what really matters most to people.

Credits to Shreyas Doshi, Shaun Miller and Daniel Kyne who have extensively written about this topic.

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