17 January 2012

How NOT to listen to your customers. Know your job.

The title might seems strange, you always listen to your customers correct? Customer is god, they should be treated with the greatest respect. 

I was reading an article by Mark Cuban http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222501?cm_mmc=Market-_-Outbrain-_-NA-_-NA, and at first, I was not all too hot about the title "Why you should NEVER listen to your customer", however, after reading the whole article, he wrapped up his points with the following quote

"Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy. Listen to them. Make them happy. But don't rely on them to create the future road map for your product or service. That's your job."

This quote is golden and should always be remembered even though the title of the article is a bit misleading. 

The issue at hand is do you always do what the customers ask? The answer should be no. Let me explain. 

It's too easy to create a product in version 1 where everything you developed is how you envisioned a product should be like, albeit, missing some essential features that yet have to be developed. 

Then your customers storms in and they provide their own set of requests. 

However, this is where the dangers start. 

When customers start to ask about various sets of features, as an entrepreneur, you should ask yourself, who are your targeted audiences? Are these features in synch with your market? For instances, say some people go to Starbucks and might want some pizza as well (I know I know..but it's an example), then as the owner of Starbucks, do you or do you not offer pizza as part  of your service? Customers requested, you should listen right? 

Well, if you are the owner, you should analyze who is your targeted audience.  Starbucks customers are the people who wants to meet briefly, chat, browse web, light meal and be on their merry ways. Pizza while a lot of people like it, it simply doesn't fit the crowd. In my mind, therefore, this should be a request to be denied. 

However, offering sandwich is okay, because it's light enough that people while chatting, can still eat a piece of two.

Starbucks is not just about coffee which is over expensive in my opinion, but rather, it's about a culture, an environment, by staying on track of this focus, that's why they can charge your $4 bucks for a cup of hot tall coffee. 

As Mark Cuban puts it, you should listen to them, but do not let them define what your business is, it's your job. 

Such as you venture onto your future releases and upgrades, it is very important for you to pick and choose the features that make sense for your audiences and discard other features that do not fit your intended crowd. Do one thing and do it well. There is a fine line between a focused, quality product and a diluted - all you can eat buffet but nothing great product. 

Lastly, that doesn't mean you should be a d**k to your customers and show them my way or the highway. Be courteous, and be professional. 




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