What does your customer actually want?

Spoken | August 9, 2016

What do your customers actually want, and what are you delivering?

Thanks to Marsha Collier for passing on this afternoon funny:

And the comic gets a chuckle because we’ve all been there. We have been the project manager or marketer for such a product, and it’s likely we have been the customer at some point as well. In the absence of a genius such as Steve Jobs, who had an uncanny ability to design products that consumers wanted and needed without their saying a word, how can we deliver what the customer actually wants?

  • Ask about functionality, not features. Better than, “How much do you want to spend?” is “In the best of all possible worlds, what would you like to be able to do?” The answer could be as simple as “map out my destination while on a phone call” or “properly identify and transfer 80% of callers to the right department with a wait time of under five minutes and a satisfaction score of at leave 90%.” Then drill down deeper with the secret unicorn question: “If this were magic, what would you like to be able to do?” Never forget that some science-fiction didn’t take too long to become science fact. More importantly, these questions give insights into the customer’s pain points that might not previously have been voiced.
  • Document the process. If certain features are impossible or too costly with current technology, document it. If features are available and simple to install but not popular or requested, document it. If the customer suggests additional features or benefits, document it.
  • Make marketing a process. Market benefits, not features. Features change over time, but the benefit to the customer doesn’t. Be willing to accept customer feedback as part of the development process and engage in a dialogue with customers about what they really need and want from your products.

What about you? How does your organization prevent delivery of a lackluster product when the customer only wanted a tire swing?

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