Most unsolved problems for customer-facing teams start as two problems.

The first problem is that something is happening.
The second is that no one knows why.

For example:

There’s a lot of traffic to your product’s home page, but hardly anyone starts a trial or requests a demo.
No one knows why.

People start trials, sign in a few times, invite their teammates to create accounts, but hardly anyone upgrades to a paid plan.
No one knows why.

About 4 months into their subscription, 20% of customers churn.
No one knows why.

Even if you know that “listening to customers” or “user research” might shed light on why revenue-related problems persist at your SaaS company, you also know that going from “We don’t have a systematic way to understanding our customers,” to “We are making decisions and shipping high-performing experiments as a result of our research,” won’t happen without a lot of work.

And because your team’s backlog is already so deep, investigating the root causes of revenue-related problems becomes a “someday project”

Someday you’ll run a few surveys on your site.

Someday you’ll identify a set of customers to interview.

Someday you’ll research….erm….how to do customer research interviews.

And when research is a someday project, everything else you work on gets more expensive.

When you don’t know why, when, or how people become trialists, customers, or ex-customers, every single marketing asset you build and product update you ship is an expensive guess.

Not knowing why something is happening means you…

…waste ad dollars to drive traffic to pages that don’t address your target prospects’ biggest pain points

…spend your afternoons QAing emails that may never get opened, read, or clicked because they ignore the real reasons people aren’t engaging with your product

…exert your mental energy coming up with new ways to navigate conversations around why experiments aren’t addressing revenue-related problems without making anyone think you’re scapegoating them

…put yourself through the emotional labor of having to plan experiments and ship copy without having all of the information you need

…spend your working days building a feature, product, or content that is unlikely to ever have an impact on revenue

But what if you could ship work based on what you knew?

What if instead of running an a/b test based on hunches or adding new features because, “Hey, it can’t hurt?” – what if you shipped new work based on what you knew?

What kind of growth could you drive if you knew:

  • Where people go to ask for help (and who they trust) when they first start experiencing the pain your problem solves – so you can design a referral program or content strategy to get to them before anyone else does
  • Exactly what is going on in people’s worlds when they start looking for a product like yours, so you can write your landing page copy and onboarding emails to address what they’re feeling (instead of what you think they’re feeling)
  • The exact, evocative, emotional language customers use to describe their pain – which is the foundational piece for turning meh, easily-forgotten marketing-speak copy into “wow they really get me how do I give this company my money?” copy
  • What your customers are really trying to do so you can design in-app experiences that show them the value they want fast – instead of wasting their time with a product tour they don’t want or need
  • What’s missing for people who sign up but don’t become a paying customer – so you can get a list of gaps you can systematically address
  • When (and why) paying customers decide to cancel their accounts – and whether the real reason is a product problem, a communication problem, or a “it’s not you it’s me” problem

“Find Out Why” is a fixed scope research engagement that eliminates the tinge of fear that your product and marketing could be better.

It’s designed for SaaS teams who…

…don’t have a dedicated researcher on staff at their company or within their pod or department

…teams that do have a researcher dedicated to other problems but don’t have a researcher with bandwidth to investigate the Problem At Hand

…are getting ready to launch a new growth initiative but don’t have a foundation about how to make it a good one

…suspect that the real reason something is happening is different from the reasons being tossed about

…are tired of shipping new growth experiments without anything to show for it

And mostly: it’s for growth leaders who are pushing their company to transition to a customer-led growth strategy but aren’t sure where to start, what they need, or how to build up the strategic and operational expertise to get and use customer insights

When you hire me to run your research study, you’re hiring me to get the qualitative insights to help you decide what to do next to turn more strangers into customers.

Your study components vary based on the problem you want to understand, but they’ll always include understanding the nuances of the question you want to answer, identifying the best ways to collect qualitative insights, conducting jobs to be done interviews, and collecting qualitative insights from at least one additional source.

Here’s what how that breaks down.

Step 1: Understand the Problem
I’ll ask you questions about your business. I’ll ask you for quantitative and qualitative data you’ve collected. I’ll ask you for access to your product. We’ll work together to create a tightly scoped question that is “answerable” with qualitative data.

Those questions will typically but not always fall into one of these categories:

  • Acquisition: Why do individuals or teams sign up for trials or demos?
  • Adoption/Activation: Why do individuals or teams upgrade to a paid account at the end of a trial? Why don’t individuals or teams upgrade at the end of a trial?
  • Retention/Churn: Why do individuals or teams remain customers over time? Why do individuals or teams cancel their accounts? (Surprise! This might be an onboarding problem)

Step 2: Plan Your Study
We’ll identify a list of participants who we want to interview and clear that list with you so we don’t inadvertently overload a customer in the middle of a negotiation. We’ll also identify the additional methodologies we’ll use to collect our data, including user testing sessions, review mining, or open-ended surveys.

Step 3: Do the Research
I’ll interview your customers and collect qualitative data.

Step 4: Share the Insights
I’ll share the processed and raw data with you, including answers into why something is happening at your business. More than that, I’ll also tie it to specific recommendations about what to do next. We’ll discuss additional questions to investigate – and whether we should continue researching or begin implementing.

Step 5: Follow Up Strategy Sessions
As you take time to read, reflect, and absorb the raw data and findings from your study, you’ll have more questions. Your Find Out Why research study comes with 2 90-minute strategy sessions you can schedule within 6 months of your study’s completion.

Or put another way: “Why invest so much time and money in a customer interviews when you can try getting answers cheaply and quickly from a survey?”

The trouble with many investigations into revenue-related problems is that the investigators jump to quantification methods much too early. Sending out a survey that says “Why did you cancel?” or “Why did you sign up?” with 6 options to choose from is about the easiest thing you can do. But the data you get from launching these surveys prior to having a full understanding of the many reasons people behave the way they do won’t give you answers you can use.

For example: on one client churn investigation, a survey that pre-dated investigative work asked people to choose one of 6 responses (“price” “bugs” “no time”) as the main reason for why they canceled their account.

When we asked people to answer an open-ended question, we found 29 unique reasons for churn – more than 4X the answers we thought to ask about. Many people gave more than 2, 3, or even 4 reasons for churning.

What’s more, answers are almost never what we think they’ll be.

People responding to questions about why they canceled in our investigation gave reasons we never would have asked about in a survey:

“I’m scared what people with think of me if I use this product”
“I’m procrastinating too much because of this product”
“The UI is too small and it was too frustrating to use”

How many people who clicked “didn’t use it” or “project ended” in the survey said “I’m scared” when we asked them directly?

If we’d relied solely on that 6-question survey to understand why people canceled, what would we have been able to do differently to keep them?

And if you send multiple choice surveys with a finite set of options without doing an open-ended investigation, what answers will you miss? What well-intentioned but ultimately misplaced projects will you ship? What opportunities will pass you by?

Stop thinking: “Someday I’ll get the insight to understand why we don’t get or keep customers.”

Start thinking: “Now we know precisely what copy to write and what experiments to run.

The outcome of this engagement isn’t exactly “research.” Yes, there will be raw qualitative data you can use for your conversion copywriting projects.

But more importantly you get…

…a light shone on your blind spots

…a new expanded list of reasons customers struggle to start or continue using your product that we can turn into web copy and onboarding emails

…exact words customers use to express their feelings and mindset at key point during their lifecycle with your company

…a veritable bounty of qualitative data you can use again and again in your copy (this alone might be worth the fee)

…insight on product changes you might want (or need) to make to reduce churn

….someone who is not you tell the product team what you’ve been dying to say but can’t because of politics (aka: marketing won’t be able to fix revenue-related problems until product fixes a few things first)

And I promise you this: If you end this research study and analysis without a newer, deeper, or better understanding about how to grow your business, I will pay for another researcher to spend a day looking over everything to see if they can extract something new.

“Find Out Why” is the fastest way to understand acquisition, adoption, and retention at your SaaS company.

Knowing exactly why your customers are signing up, upgrading, or churning is a super power. Being the person who knows the exact words customer use to describe how they feel about your product makes you a secret weapon. Showing up with the data about what’s happening to back up your strategy to fix it makes you the person everyone wants to say “yes” to.