You read that right! By not listening to your customers, you are freeing yourselves from the limits of the customer’s limited imagination and enabling your business to come up with something that really differentiates your business from the generic ones.
Why is it so? Consider the fact that your customers are already so pre-occupied with their daily job, how would they even have time to think how to improve and solve their problems. That is your job and your business value to them in return for their hard earned cash!
You have to remember that sometimes only you are able to see the trends, pieces of technology and some other insider information that your customers do not possess. Without these information and knowledge, your customers can at best only suggest incremental improvements within the current limitations of what they know (be it business processes, technology or functional advancements)
When customers do ask and provide with you insight, they ask almost at every occasion asks for something your competitor has or is developing and they usually ask for EVERYTHING they can imagine regardless of the priority. At best, by listening to you customers you end up catching up with the competition or being on par with them. Good luck with leapfrogging them in the competition. You’ll probably be known as a very good copy cat, in which if you are fine with, then you can stop reading here. I am sure why we are not doing so is that because all of us want to create something unique or be known for something unique that only your business can offer to the customers.
Consider some real-life examples. If Apple consulted with potential customers before making the iPhone, do you think it would have been what it is today? During the iPhone introduction, customers and critics were complaining of the lack of a stylus and physical keyboard for text entry (no doubt due to Blackberry craze then). Today every top selling smartphone has neither a stylus nor a physical keyboard. Had Apple listened to its customers, the iPhone would probably end up as another Blackberry clone. I recalled vividly that even I was complaining that I had to use my finger back then to navigate with the iPhone. Of course, the same goes for the iPad, where everyone bemoaned the fact that it was just a over-sized iPhone, but look at its runaway success today where competitors are still playing catch-up.
Now I am sure you are reading this blog not only to gain some industry wide on what has happened but how this applied to me and the business.
If you need to be asking your customers on what product or direction the business needs, then I am sorry to say that you have no vision to offer your customer any value. Your customers can help identify trends and gaps but count them out on determining the company strategy or a product feature set. They absolutely have no idea on your limitations and strengths, and only you can put those into consideration and deliver something that is actually useful for them!
Contrary to the popular conventional wisdom that ‘The Customer Is Always Right’, and a lot of other people will have you believe that by conducting surveys, focus groups, questionnaires and every other answer seeking methodologies out there, that it will give you a good insight into what people want and how to build a great product or service. Unfortunately this is all not true and is a biased view on what creates truly exceptional products, services and business.
A quick search on Google will yield you how widespread this false believe is. I did a simple search on Google to find articles or advice on not listening to your customers by typing in the search term ‘ Don’t Listen To Your Customers’ and I only got around 10 links in the first 3 pages of google’s search results. All the other links were telling you how to listen to customers and what happens when you don’t.
So perhaps maybe just once in a while, take that risky or silly idea that everyone is berating you about and put it into execution. You never know if it might turn out to be another iPhone or Google idea.