How to Use the Jobs-to-be-Done Framework To Improve Retention

Have you heard of the “jobs to be done” or JTBD framework? This approach to finding product-market fit and aligning one’s product with a customer’s needs has been around for quite a while. And it’s just as useful today for businesses who want to better understand their target market.

The JTBD theory is very important when it comes to successfully planning a product. Being able to conceptualise a service or product that will kill it in the market before it’s actually approved for development is the goal of many startups and enterprises. When this theory and framework is applied the right way, the results are ultra-predictable innovation.

It all comes down to creating a product that addresses a customer’s need, and discovering that need through in-depth research.

The best way a company can determine which needs of a customer are unmet is to uncover virtually all of the customer’s needs. The JTBD framework and subsequent interviews can help unveil this information.

Such interviews are conducted to discover the needs of the customer, rather than their experience with a particular product or even the company itself.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the JTBD framework and how it works for retaining customers and securing conversions during the onboarding phase. To start, let’s break down exactly what this often vague framework really is and does.

What is the “Jobs to be done’ framework?

The jobs to be done theory is essentially a framework for categorising, capturing, and defining the needs of a company’s customers. With this framework, need statements can be achieved in mere days, rather than months.

The statements alone are valid for a very long time and don’t become obsolete so quickly. This framework is far from new-- in fact, it has origins way back in the late nineties.

JTBD is based on the premise that people will “hire and fire” products to perform a task for them. It’s more of a perspective in which businesses can look at markets, customers, and their needs differently in order to allow business innovation to be more predictable.

It’s a theory that looks at consumer action and the mechanisms that push a consumer to adopt an innovation and “fire” their old solution for a problem.

Think of it this way: A consumer might decide to purchase a bicycle. What they’re getting with this purchase are ball bearings, tires, and a number of other components. However, the consumer likely doesn’t care about any of that-- what they care about is that they would like to go on bike rides in the morning to get into shape.

They’re looking for a solution to a problem, need, or job-- not an actual product. JTBD focuses on the consumer’s constantly changing needs, rather than pushing a product on them.

Source: Samuel Hulick

Why “jobs to be done” is important for onboarding and retention

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of not focusing on building a product that people actually find valuable. Rather, many will simply take the “easy” way and start with untested assumptions. By doing so, entrepreneurs don’t get to create a sense of empathy with their users.

This ultimately leads to creating the wrong kind of product that doesn’t take care of a job to be done-- instead, it doesn’t fit any specific market. Brands often don’t realise this until retention numbers are struggling significantly.

Just as well, the JTBD framework can help improve a business’s user onboarding. It’s vital to create an excellent onboarding experience in order to prove to new users that a brand’s product will help them take care of the job they want.

To put it simply, the best onboarding experience is one that is short, user-friendly, easy, and effective in establishing value. Some products are very complex, which can’t be avoided. In this context, it may seem impossible to get users started with installation, invites, etc.

New users who decide to pull out during the onboarding process essentially believe that the value of the product doesn’t align with the energy or time involved in continuing-- essentially, their job to be done requires something more convenient.

How to craft a “jobs to be done statement”

A JTBD statement is a statement that pulls together the circumstance, goal, and result of a job.

To start, it helps to create a key persona. Who are the consumers who have the job that your product can take care of? Where are they from, how do they spend their money, what are their demographics?

From there, build your JTBD statement based on this format: “When [situation] occurs, I want to [job to be done], so that I am able to [result or outcome.]

Your JTBD statement should be based on knowledge and user research. This is vital when it comes to ensuring that a JTBD statement is based in data, not just theory. It’s also important to think of this statement as something different than, say, a user story.

supposed to be the foundation of your key persona, product, and ultimately your solution while working closely with user stories. This makes it possible to think more about context instead of just goals.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say this is our JTBD statement: “When I am driving to work, I want a breakfast food that is easy and compact to eat, so I can get to work without making a mess.”

This is the most common example of JTBD and is based on a real-world company. This company used the JTBD framework to create milkshakes that were more aligned with the needs of their customers.

Essentially, customers were “hiring” milkshakes to take on the “job” of feeding them while they were driving in their cars and unable to consume a traditional breakfast. Milkshakes are easy to hold and very easy to drink through a straw. They are more filling than a regular beverage and taste delicious.

So, in response to this, the company using the JTBD approach decided to create a line of milkshake flavors that were more breakfast-themed, such as coffee and orange juice flavored milkshakes.

They also made the milkshakes thicker to last through a long commute or rush hour traffic. Through understanding the job to be done and this new value proposition, the company was then able to find its product-market fit.

There are a few reasons why this is a good example of a JTBD statement at work. For one, the reasons why customers were buying milkshakes was somewhat surprising-- you’ll really need to do your research to find these rare and surprising value propositions. Just as well, this example also shows how important it is to understand the jobs a customer might have in a variety of different contexts.

Why you need to speak to users and conduct surveys

The ultimate goal of the JTBD framework is to find out your customers’ jobs to be done and learn more about their persona. This is best done through conducting surveys, interviews, and just generally communicating and getting feedback. However, there is a certain approach you should take to ensure that the feedback you receive is valuable.

A JTBD interview has the goal of gaining a better understanding of the job your customer wants to do. When conducting a survey, do not focus on the buying process itself, nor should you focus on the purchase date, the customer’s behavior, or even the product. Rather, you should be focused specifically on understanding the core job. This approach makes it easier to uncover the metrics that a customer might use to measure the success of a product when trying to get a job done with it. These needs are known as “customer desired outcomes.”

There are three steps in studying the outcome of a JTBD interview:

  • Define the market you are studying as simply a group of consumers and a job they want to complete. This creates the frame.
  • Create a job map that breaks down the job into steps needed to complete that job.
  • Discover the customer’s outcomes and needs for each individual step in the job.

It’s worth noting that if you are more interested in entering a new market or discovering one, these three steps should follow a market discovery and selection process.

How to use “jobs to be done” in products

There are many different ways one can use the JTBD framework in products. To start, follow the basic premise of JTBD-- identify jobs that customers are trying to get done. We recommend looking at individuals in your target market who are putting together solutions on their own, as these are excellent clues for innovating your own product.

From there, it’s helpful to categorise the jobs to be done. An individual job has many requirements that are not just functional but are also emotional and even social. That means that context is important. Take a look at your market’s main job to be done and determine the functional aspects. Then, consider the emotional aspects of the main job to be done and the personal and social dimensions that relate to those aspects. From there, look at related jobs to be done and repeat the process.

Examples of “jobs to be done” in products

There are many examples out there of JTBD in action.


One great example of JTBD involves the remote video chatting platform Zoom. The number of professionals who work from home or remotely has grown steadily in the last ten years, and reached an all-time high during the COVID-19 pandemic. The videoconferencing platform became the most-used tool for remote collaboration in 2020.

The job to be done in this instance is to help remote professionals engage with their colleagues and coworkers without the need for one-on-one interaction. Essentially, there needed to be an adequate way to replace physical meetings. Zoom provided a solution to this job, launching a 354% increase in customer use since the pandemic began.


This tool solves a very particular job to be done: Once a user has visited a business website, asked for information from a chatbot, and then bounced. Autopilot automates alternative communication lines to retarget that customer, such as email, SMS, ads, etc.

The job to be done is simply to retarget potential leads in a fully automated way in order to turn those leads into conversions. Autopilot is the solution to this JTBD by taking on a number of different marketing and retargeting tasks that would normally be tedious and long-winded for an actual human to do.


Paypal has found significant growth in the last few years. Like Zoom, it has also boomed during the pandemic because it offered a good solution to a job to be done.

In this instance, the job to be done is to have a convenient and user-friendly tool to exchange currency. As cash is in decline, more people are exchanging money via online applications. In fact, online digital payments have grown at a yearly rate of over 17%.

Paypal solved this JTBD by providing a secure and easy way to pay people and businesses online. They achieved this by building a large network of merchants and offer single-touch checkout tools to further make the process fast and effective. Not only did Paypal solve the JTBD for this use case, but it also solved a number of jobs to be done that popped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the need to pay employees remotely for an affordable fee.

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