Biz Tips: How Listening To Customers Can Ruin Your Business?

Biz Tips: How Listening To Customers Can Ruin Your Business?


How Listening To Customers Can Ruin Your Business?

Do These Two Things Instead.


“If you build it, we will buy it. Will you pay for the cost of development? Well, we don’t think we should be paying for the development cost as your other customers will buy it too.” Many of us have probably heard something similar from our customers before. At the end of the day, if we build something and nobody wants it, who is going to pay for it? It is you and not the customers. This is why so many startups have gone out of business even though they did everything their customers asked for. It really makes us think twice about listening to customers despite all those talks about being customer focus.

Maybe the customer isn’t always right?

There are customers who do know what they want. However, in many cases, you might get 100 different answers if you talked to 100 different customers because many customers do not know what they want. They will look for experts for answers or they might give you some requirements which does not help you at all. Worst yet, they might keep changing their mind and ask for different things at different times.

People always say we have to be customer focus. But the reality is we cannot please every single customer. As the expert, you will have to make choices so the customers will end up with a great product! Here are the two things you can do to come up with a great product.

Setting Clear and Simple Goals

The first step in coming up with a great product is to set goals that are clear and simple. Having clear goals is not an easy thing, but it’s the way you develop great products. A good example is the Centrino platform from Intel. The goal is very simple: enable Wi-Fi and long battery life for laptops. Rather than focusing on what is in the CPU, chipset and wireless network adapter etc, it focuses on what end users want: connectivity without the wire and long battery life so they can carry it around without the power cord.

Source: Intel Corporation

Boiling things down to a simple goal is not easy. For example, “>7 hours battery life” is a lot clearer and simpler goal than “20% longer battery life than what we have today”. Having a well defined and specific goal and building it from the ground up will makes it a lot easier to hit the goal versus something that is vague.

Focus On Coming Up With The Best Possible Product

Shortly after Mark Parker became CEO, he got a call from Steve Jobs. Parker asked Jobs if he has any advice for him. Here is what Jobs said.

“Well, just one thing,” said Jobs. “Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. Absolutely beautiful, stunning products. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”

Apple is a company that really believe in focus. Here is what Steve Jobs told Fortune magazine in 2008.

Certainly the great consumer electronics companies of the past had thousands of products. We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. The clearest example was when we were pressured for years to do a PDA, and I realized one day that 90% of the people who use a PDA only take information out of it on the road. They don’t put information into it. Pretty soon cell phones are going to do that, so the PDA market’s going to get reduced to a fraction of its current size, and it won’t really be sustainable. So we decided not to get into it. If we had gotten into it, we wouldn’t have had the resources to do the iPod. We probably wouldn’t have seen it coming.

Very often, we spent way too much time asking customers what they think about this and that — as opposed to coming up with the best possible product. We forgot that focus leads to great products. It also leads to good business decisions.

You Know Your Product Best

It always pay to listen to the customers but we need to use our own judgement when it comes to product development. Remember, there is no guarantee that customers will buy the product from you even if you designed in everything they asked for.


The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo

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