Inspiration and A Check list for Selecting Customers in Understanding Customers

Customer Selection In Market Research

The following checklists consider; which customers to include when conducting market research, and how to decide which customers to involve in your learning.

Voice of the customer, face to face usability testingcustomer persona development and customer journey mapping development are some of the examples where these customer selection lists are useful.

What Do You Want To Learn

  1. The most important criteria is to be guided by what you want to learn.
  2. Choose those who can best inform your business, product development and marketing communication decisions.
  3. Align with the research learning method you are using.

Customers By Innovation Adoption

In ‘‘Crossing the Chasm’  Geoffrey Moore does an excellent job clarifying the differences amongst these customer persona types. It comes down largely to different approaches to risk adversity versus the benefits of innovation.

  • Early Adopters
  • Early Majority
  • Late Majority
  • Laggards

Customers By Lifecycle Stage

  • New Customers
  • Typical Customers
  • Experienced Customers
  • Lead Customers / Super Users – not indicative of the typical user but potentially an early informant for future considerations. Carefully consider how super users are different from your average customers. They can be wonderfully informative, and pull you dangerously off course.
  • Defected Customer – particularly useful to speak to when recently defected as they have both experience of your offer, and are likely to be able to articulate weaknesses.

Customers By Customer Satisfaction

The Net Promoter® Score uses a measure of ‘willingness to promote’ the organization as a means to understand customers.  It’s a common metric in customer experience and customer satisfaction programme to proxy for customer loyalty.

The format is a simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”.  Research by Bain & Co has show a correlationship between NPS and lifetime value of the customers.

The three main groups of customers are:

  • Promoters
  • Neutral
  • Detractor

Customers By Revenue

  • Revenue Per Market Segment; this may be different product lines, different geographies or industries with different needs.
  • Largest Lifetime Value – a subsegment of customers who, overtime, delivery most profit to the organization.
  • Average Sales Price – divide customers into buckets based on how much they pay per item or project.  Those who purchase big ticket items likely have a different ecosystem to deal with,  and different needs versus those whose purchase represents a smaller amount.


Does it make sense to to consider your *non* customers?

This group may help you;

  • uncover needs you don’t yet serve,
  • understand competitive offers better, and
  • throw light on positioning or marketing communications weaknesses.

Alternatively this can assist you to better articulate who you do not serve. Strategy, after all, is about what you don’t, or won’t do.

  • Non-Customers
  • Competitors’ Customers

Problems To Avoid In Selecting Research Candidates

  1. Squeeky Wheel; Many organizations manage ‘squeeky wheel’ customers those who shout the loudest and the most often.
  2. HIPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) can pull understanding from “real customer” off target.

The (wealthy) founder / CTO educated of a large organization solicited input from a personal friend. This personal friend of this MIT educated genius was not representative of the target customers.


You may well choose to include both your squeeky wheel and HIPPO candidates, and indeed, learn a lot.


More Resources On Market Research With Customers



About Jane Morgan

With 20+ years high-tech marketing & product development experience from Boston to Billund, Berlin to Bangalore, Jane has managed teams and tech products with millions of installs, and millions of revenue (annually). She's researched and developed market strategy for global markets, and established the blueprint for product management in many new teams. As an intrapreneur turned entrepreneur, she changed vowels in 2014 and founded JEM 9 Marketing Consultancy. Today she works with CEOs & business leaders to assist them in understanding and reaching customers. Speaker on market research, technology marketing and product management.