How the Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory Aligns well With the Nuances of the Customer-centricity Concept

Merging Customer-Centricity with the JTBD Framework

How the concept of customer-centricity integrates with the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) theory. Unlocking Customer-centricity by merging it with the JTBD framework.

Sep 2023

In the previous chapter we’ve discussed the common misconceptions about the concept of customer-centricity.

Being customer-centric does not mean that the customer is always right or that you should ask your customer what they want.

  • Do not react to every shift in customer preference but understand the core needs.
  • Do not just giving the customer what they ask for but innovate.
  • Do not offer more choices but what’s best for your customers.
  • ...

Being customer-centric means having the tactical empathy and truly understanding your customers and wanting to serve them.

So, it’s no different from the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) theory. It posits that a job is always the same regardless of the technology of the solution, i.e., remembering things as jobs and pen and paper vs task software vs....

So, whether technological development (e/acc) provides new solutions, the underlying job is always the same. And therefore, understanding the goal the customer wants to achieve stays always the same.

The Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) Theory

This is why the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) theory provides a compelling framework that aligns well with the nuances of customer-centricity we've discussed earlier.

The JTBD theory posits that customers "hire" products or services to get specific jobs done. These jobs are fundamental and tend to remain consistent over time, even as the solutions (or technologies) for those jobs evolve. By understanding the core job a customer is trying to achieve, companies can innovate and create products that better serve those needs.

Using the generic example of a To-do List:

  • Job: Remembering things (This is a consistent need or problem faced by people across different eras.)

  • Technology/Solution Evolution:

    • Oral traditions and mnemonic devices
    • Pen and paper
    • Digital task managers or reminder apps
    • Voice-activated assistants like Siri or Alexa
    • And whatever future technologies might arise...

The core job (remembering things) remains the same, but the ways in which we address that job evolve with technology and societal changes.

When companies understand the fundamental jobs their customers are trying to accomplish, they can:

  1. Develop solutions that directly address those core needs.
  2. Stay relevant as technologies or market conditions change because they're focused on the consistent job, not just the current solution.
  3. Innovate in ways that might not be immediately obvious but serve the core job more effectively.

This approach ensures that companies remain deeply aligned with their customers' needs, making them inherently customer-centric. It's not just about the surface-level solution but understanding the deeper problem or desire.

Let's integrate the potential misunderstandings related to customer-centricity of said earlier article with the JTBD framework.

The JTBD Framework Aligned With Customer-Centricity

How the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) theory aligns with customer-centricity, and combating common misunderstandings.

Common Misunderstandings of Customer-Centricity

  1. Only About Listening to Customers: A misconception is that customer-centricity means acting solely based on direct customer feedback. True customer-centricity involves discerning deeper needs, sometimes unexpressed by customers.
  2. Operational Neglect: Being customer-centric doesn't mean sidelining operational efficiency. The goal is aligning operations with delivering value to customers.
  3. Ignoring the Broader Stakeholder Ecosystem: A holistic approach recognizes the customer as a primary, but not exclusive, stakeholder.

The Core of JTBD
At its essence, JTBD suggests customers "hire" products or services to accomplish certain tasks. The real value lies in discerning these underlying "jobs."

Connecting Misunderstood Customer-Centricity to JTBD

  1. Unexpressed Needs: Like customer-centricity's approach to delving beyond overt feedback, JTBD pushes for understanding the underlying job, even if customers aren't explicitly expressing it.
  2. Operational Alignment: Just as true customer-centricity aligns operations with customer value, JTBD encourages developing solutions (products/services) that efficiently address identified jobs.
  3. Holistic Value Creation: Recognizing the broader job a product plays in a customer's life—be it functional, social, or emotional—mirrors the holistic stakeholder approach in customer-centricity.

Practical Insights from Merging Both Philosophies

Deeper Customer Understanding

Merging these frameworks can lead to a profound understanding of customer desires and unmet needs.

Action Step: Regularly conduct ethnographic studies or deep-dive customer interviews. This hands-on approach can yield rich insights into hidden customer needs. For instance, as a hiking shoe brand you might discover through in-depth customer observations that most buyers are concerned more about comfort over long durations rather than just immediate fit. This revelation can lead to a new marketing campaign emphasizing all-day trail comfort.

Innovative Potential

The combination can fuel groundbreaking solutions that fulfill evolving or unmet jobs.

Action Step: Host cross-functional brainstorming sessions. Engage teams from marketing, design, operations, and customer service. By viewing a customer’s “job” from multiple angles, you’re more likely to identify innovative solutions.

Sustainable Growth

A dual focus ensures long-term alignment with genuine customer needs, fostering enduring success.

Action Step: Continuously track and assess the changing landscape of customer "jobs." For example, Blockbuster failed because it misread the evolving job of "watching movies conveniently at home." They missed the shift from in-store rentals to streaming, a job Netflix understood better.

The iPhone Example

Apple's iPhone experienced a somewhat multifaceted success. It wasn't just a tool for communication. It addressed numerous jobs, from staying connected to asserting a modern identity. By recognizing these various "jobs," Apple exemplified a nuanced customer-centric approach, perfectly aligned with JTBD principles. And all of that not by asking what customers want, but by understanding what customers want.

Or, consider Dyson. They didn’t just sell bag-less vacuum cleaners; they sold the ability to clean efficiently without losing suction. Dyson delved deeper into the job customers wanted to be done, leading them to innovate and dominate the market. They understood the importance of not just cleaning without a bag, but cleaning without frequent interruptions to empty the canister or untangle a power cord.


Companies that can merge the customer-centric approach with JTBD are not just more attuned to their customers but also better positioned to innovate and evolve.

The synergy between a nuanced understanding of customer-centricity and the JTBD framework offers businesses a powerful approach.

Remember, it’s not just about asking what your customers want. It’s about understanding the problem they’re trying to solve, the “job” they need to get done, and then delivering a solution that does that job better than anyone else.

By recognizing and addressing the core "jobs" customers are seeking to fulfill, while avoiding common misunderstandings of customer-centricity, businesses can carve a path to enduring success.


This, more integrated view, should help you better grasp the customer-centric concept and by drawing parallels with the JTBD framework exemplify, that the right frameworks and tools will inevitable lead you to the right understanding of customer centricity.

Aug 2023
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