Don’t Listen to your Customers!

OK, that got your attention…

Sometimes the best way to satisfy a customer’s need is to ignore their suggestions. Customers have ideas about incremental improvements to their workflow, but if we develop something that is truly innovative, our ideas probably won’t make sense to existing customers. Sometimes when we solve a market problem, our solution may completely eliminate existing process with a better way of reaching the desired goals. In many cases, customers only know their way of doing things while we have a broader perspective across many customers’ processes and a deeper understanding of technology capabilities. An individual customer does not have our aggregated view of the larger market problem across multiple customers and a deep understanding of technology.

It is by going out and observing our customers using our solution that we see how they interact with our products in their environment. There are many things people never verbally communicate because they are unconsciously doing them or they do not see them as important. For example, they may have created special information “cheat sheets” they need to do their job. I have observed numerous workers who have a spreadsheet on their network to manage information that could be incorporated into the product and completely change the way they accomplish activities. Most customers do not have the deep understanding of technology capabilities. And, from their perspective, we are, quite frankly, one of many vendors to them— just a part of their overall process—and they think of our products and solutions in this context.

A deep understanding of our customers’ needs is still required to make great solutions. But it also requires a deep understanding of technology, tools, and of the reasons for our customers’ activities.

You can read more in this article – Defining and Designing Technology for People