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    « Tenure and Unhappiness at Work | Main | CHART OF THE DAY: There are more job openings in the USA than ever »
    Monday
    Aug212017

    Customers might always be right, but what they tell you isn't always useful

    Happy possible-end-of-days Great American Solar Eclipse Monday!

    'The customer is always right' has been a generally accepted mantra? maxim? truism? that has pretty much informed the product, service, and sales strategies for all kinds of industries for decades. And while the absolute truth and the need to adhere to this precept is certainly debatable, 'customer focus' taken more generally has developed into the operating philosophy of most successful organizations.

    So while the customer is (probably, mostly) always 'right', is what they are telling you all the helpful or useful?

    Over the weekend I came across this outstanding post from Cindy Alvarez called '10 Things I've Learned About Customer Development' that highlights just a few of the ways that customer input and feedback isn't always incredibly insightful or useful. Here's just one example (my favorite), from the list:

    What features your customers ask for is never as interesting as why they want them. So: Direct them away from talking about the solution and back to describing the problem. Listen, pause, and then ask what it would allow them to do if they had it today. Ask what they’re currently doing as a substitute. They’ll either identify a problem (good — now go solve it) or be unable to provide specifics (feel free to deprioritize this suggestion).

    In the enterprise and certainly in the HR tech space function and feature 'arms races' have been a significant driver of solution provider development and attempts at competitive differentiation for ages. This approach makes sense in an environment where customers and prospects send out voluminous RFPs and request tightly scripted demonstrations that sometimes are even spelled out in minute by minute increments. 

    In an environment where business can be won by 'checking the most boxes' it just made sense for providers to, in fact, strive for the most items that could be checked off. Even if no one, customer or provider alike, is entirely sure that checking all the boxes is the best or even a sensible strategy. 

    Of course there is some level of baseline capability that say a Payroll or ATS solution must provide to even be tenable - no one would argue that. But there is probably much more room for creativity, innovation, and ground breaking thinking around enterprise tech than we allow if we focus too much on 'what' we need systems to do and not enough on 'why' we think these features will allow us to accomplish.

    Check out the entire list from Ms. Alvarez, there is much more food for thought in there for solution providers and customers alike.

    And don't stare too much into the sun today!

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    Reader Comments (1)

    Hello,

    Attractive Post...! Clearly, explains customer focus is the key point for the successful organization.

    Thanks for sharing useful information....

    August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTheAECAssociates

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