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  5.12. Motive Communications on Customer Conversations (2 min.)

Don’t just ask your customers “what” they want. Try to understand the job they are trying to do, the pain they experience while trying to do the job, and the “why” behind the pain they are experiencing.

Consider the example of Motive Communications, which tried to increase the efficiency of IT help desk. At first, customers responded that the problem was the growing time it took to handle IT support calls. When the Motive team asked “Why?" IT support personnel complained that their callers’ computer systems were more complex than they used to be. When the team asked "why" that was a problem, they said that it now took more time to identify and diagnose a caller’s system than it took to actually fix the IT problem. By continuing to ask “Why?” the team eventually discovered that the real pain was the time it took the IT support professional and the caller to establish the specifications of the users’ support plan, their computer, and their software configuration.

By creating software that just allowed computers to communicate directly, Motive could entirely eliminate this time-consuming process in IT support operations. If Motive had only focused on the surface problem - an increase in call time and volume - they might have missed the deeper root problem and developed a feature-packed product that only partially fit the real pain.