Jobs to Be Done Example: Customers Don’t Know What They Really Want. Us Neither.

A Jobs To Be Done example from a personal story with 6 key takeaways for business leaders to understand buying behaviors.

Post updated on
January 27, 2024

Customers barely scratch the surface of the main motivations to buy when it comes to answer the question "what do you need?"

It was Jan 26th of 2020 at Maui Kaanapali Villas, Hawaii.

During this vacation, my partner and I reflected on what happened to us during the hotel checkout, and how hard it is to unveil the real Jobs To Be Done the people are trying to achieve.

That day we had to take the flight back to Seattle at 11:20 PM, so we had plenty of time to relax and enjoy our last day at Maui. Under that circumstance, we were discussing the convenience of doing a late check-out at the hotel at 1 PM instead of the standard check-out at 11 AM.

After the check-out, we were going to do the Hana route, so we could not leave the hotel later than 1 PM.

After discussing if it made sense to pay whatever the amount was to have a room for 2 hours more, we conveyed that we wanted to know the price before.

Up to this point, we still did not have clear our Job To Be Done. We were discussing to “have a room more time”.

To balance the price versus value was our KPI for decision making, and our outcomes were reasonable price vs. value, feel clean (shower), and suffer no robberies (luggage safe).

Takeaway 1: Every customer, mentally, defines their own JTBD outcomes to measure the success of hiring a product/service.

The next step was to ask the receptionist for the late check-out price. He told us that there was no availability of late check-out because new guests were coming to our room.

However, he said to us: “We can keep your suitcases in the locker for you. Besides, we have two private showers available for customers willing to enjoy the pool and beach after checking-out. Does it work for you?”

Unveiling the underlying Job To Be Done — The problem rather than the symptom

“That works perfectly” — Was our answer to the receptionist.

That means that our real Job To Be Done was not “to have the room for 2 hours more”. Instead, it was “help me to keep my luggage safe and have a shower after using the pool and do snorkel after the check-out so that we can start the trip feeling clean”.

Takeaway 2: What the customer wants/tell is not always the underlying Job To Be Done (real need).

My partner and I tended to do late check-out when we have late flights to return home, so our mind was pointing us to do a late check-out, instead of asking for the real functional Job To Be Done we needed to solve.

Takeaway 3: Human behavior drives us to express wants the same as they get used to. Instead we have to ask questions to unveil the real Job To Be Done (needs).

It is curious that even working with the JBTD framework, we did not realize our real Job To Be Done. If that happens to us, imagine to our customers. They need our help.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” — Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School

Or, in our case:

“People don’t want a room for 2 hours more. They want to keep the luggage safe and a private shower to feel clean.”

Marketing strategy leaders and founder's priority should be to discover the real Jobs To Be Done of customers. Then help them solve it by removing pains

The hotel employees realized about this Job, built private showers for that purpose and were offering these showers proactively (on top of the luggage room )when customers were asking about “late check-out”.

Takeaway 4: Employees and researchers should be trained to give solutions for real problems, not for wants or saids.

Translated to your business, when doing market or customer research to develop a product or service, your have to make the right questions to understand the underlying Job To Be Done of your customers to develop a solution that fits what they need, which not always is what they say they want.

What we wanted and said with our words:

“a room for 2 hours more”

What we really needed (our jobs to be done example or  jobs to be done statement)

Help me...“have a shower while keeping my luggage safe I so I can feel clean”

Takeaway 5: It is really difficult to unveil underlying real needs without asking the correct questions.

Customer satisfaction skyrockets when solving underlying Jobs, rather than superficial symptoms

The results were more than satisfying: we were exactly offered what we needed, and we did not pay any extra penny for it.

Instead, if we’d have rented the room for 2 hours more, there would have been an additional cost.

The satisfaction sensation was much better than if we had to rent the room for more time.

They asked the right questions to understand our true motivations. And they provided a solution.

Takeaway 6: Solve the underlying problem, rather than the symptom to considerably increase customer satisfaction and build trust.

Discover real Jobs To Be Done is a hard task.

It is vital to empathize with our customers as human beings and truly understand what they are trying to do instead of what they are saying they want.

Businesses with a system to constantly understand the underlying Job To Be Done of their target buyers and end-users design products and solutions that fit better to solve customer problems.

Is your team asking the right questions to the right buyers and end-users to reveal their true needs?

Author Photo
Jose Bermejo, Founder & Managing Partner

Thanks for reading my thoughts! I bring 16 years of experience selling and marketing B2B tech products. I define myself as a thinker on the impact of human behavior on innovation adoption, marketing strategy, go-to-market, and business leadership in B2B high-tech. Armed with this knowledge, I help B2B high-tech leaders accelerate traction by aligning their strategy with what buyers want as coach, speaker, and workshop leader.

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