How to deal with the customer who does not know what he wants

I have had different customers — those, who know, what they want and those, who did not. The ratio was about 1 to 5 but still, how to deal with the client, who does not know what he wants so that you cannot even reach the “discovery stage” — I am not even talking about business analysis issues itself.

Our cusomer looks like… awesome Brian Chesky.

So, the story is about techniques which will help you as a clever, awesome and challenging BA to help the cutomer to understand his needs. Let`s start!

Dr. House always started his work with the ‘problem diagnosis” — why should not you? Thoug, he did not talk to his patients, but you need to as this is the way to see the customer`s pain.
SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound
  • PEST analysis — rather to see all potential stakeholders and risks for the product;
  • five forces analysis by Porter to see the “market picture” more precisely;
  • SWOT analysis — it is rather modified when the customer does not have business or not and SME here, but make it for yourself to see what are the team`s Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I would rather ask questions on the customer`s capability to develop the product and see how he could help you when developing it.
  • Customer analysis — make a questionnaire, go to forums where your customer lives, use — everything is possible and cheap with Internet. See what the user wants.
Who does not know this awesome man? He did all the tricks in the films on his own. He said to know lots of techniquest which made him professional actor. Why should not you?
Business canvas for Facebook, from
  • needs: these are the customer`s pains, which he enters into the product and hopes to solve. For LinkedIn is could be — a lot of candidates in different places for Head Hunters;
  • wants: these are the gains the customer hopes to achieve while using your product. For LinkedIn, for example, it could be quality Job search/Mentor search for professionals, for Head hunters — a pool of candidates in one place etc. Here are the reasons the user will use your product.
  • experience=pain killers: those problem-solvers which make to use your product — not the competitors. I think that here lies the unique competitive advantage.
  • benefits — here lie the benefits which the customer gain using your product.

Remember — you are not just a Business Analyst. You are consultant which works with Customer to solve his pain and problem. A lot depends on your work. Good luck!

To read:

  • Business models generation, Alexander Osterwalder

Passionate about IT and startups. Books lover. Made in Ukraine.

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