Is the customer always right?

Original author: Art
Should I make a big bet on the user's opinion? On the one hand, the well-known phrase “the buyer is always right”, of course, has a sound basis. The client knows what he wants, but does he realize what he needs in reality?

Recall Henry Ford’s common phrase, “If I asked people what they needed, they would ask for a faster horse.” We cannot be sure that these words really belong to Mr. Ford. But if he had interviewed his potential buyers (using some kind of feedback service, such as Qualaroo) - there is a high probability that the “fast horse” would be the most popular answer. Steve Jobs is credited with a similar view of the problem "The buyer does not know what he wants until we show it to him."

In history, there are many examples of successful products, the basis of which is not “responding to a customer’s request”, but understanding what the customer really needs, often unconsciously. If you have ridden horses all your life, do you think it would hurt you to ride without a horse at all? When interviewing customers, you need to understand what they think in categories that they already know.

Understanding what the client wants is not so simple .

To begin with, let's confess to ourselves - we are not very good at understanding what our client wants. Otherwise, the service providers would not have been deprived of customers, and the assortment of online stores would be sold out in a matter of hours. Founders and developers of online storesall over the world they would not puzzle over trying to understand why customers leave without having made a purchase. According to statistics, this is 2/3 of site visitors. E-mail newsletters, discount coupons, “two for the price of one” , etc. The whole world has grown on the problem of unpaid baskets.

What does the client want? We do not have an answer for two reasons:

1. Among the visitors, a considerable share falls on the prowling competitors and shopaholics “on the hunt” in search of a favorable price.

2. People do not always know exactly what they want. In other words, what they think they need is not necessarily their real need.

How to identify customer needs?

Trial and error, one of the best ways to unravel the customer's need. The problem is that any attempt to change something immediately, even when it comes to MPV (minimally viable product), is faced with hostility from the audience. What can we say about the release of a new logo for such mammoths as Facebook or Instagramm, remember how much dissatisfaction the audience had.

Thomas Larnitzius states: “There is no need to take strictly the work of designers. The attempt to change something and get feedback is a lot more fruitful way to understand the needs of the client than theoretical discussions about what is missing in a particular product. ”

Although, more often a change in the design of the company logo is associated with updates to the functions of the application itself. This makes it possible to attract more audience attention to create hype.

We will not dwell on such an insignificant attempt to annoy the public for a long time. The idea is that we, as consumers, often have no idea what the ultimate goal was to update the design of a brand. But we can assume that the basis was the desire of developers to somehow recognize and satisfy our need.

Do the customers themselves know what they want?

UPS Pulse conducted a study among visitors to online stores trying to understand why customers leave without having made a purchase. The results are as follows:

50% are not yet ready to buy;
20% are distracted by  something else.
16% just came to see. That is, 2 out of 10 visitors, initially, go to the site, not intending to buy something .

Michael Suoka writes: “In everyday life, people cannot say exactly what they want, they can only speculate. As it comes down to it - they may want something else. And even more so, they cannot imagine what they want tomorrow. ” Remember the hype around the new design of VKontakte? And where are all these critics now?

It is possible that the audience is obediently getting used to the new design, and, perhaps, the new design is what she really needed, but she did not realize this.

Jeff White expressed his opinion on the blog about the new instagram logo design: “The fact that the layman thinks it works for 5 minutes actually carries months, and even years of painstaking work, experiments, improvements and professional skills. I was always amazed at how much the public does not realize (or rather does not feel respect) for the titanic work done to create a new icon or function for the application. Not to mention the courage you need to have in order to announce an update for the application that millions of people use. Is there an urgent need for this? Not. But this is the first step towards modernization. ”

When consumers criticize something , they forget about it after a split second. Decisions about  anychanges are accepted after lengthy discussions, studies and definitions of various consumer groups. And if someone does not like the result , this is normal and quite expected.

The client may be mistaken in their desires.

A couple of recent popular applications - perfectly demonstrate to us: giving the audience what she wants (or thinks, wants) is not always a direct path to success.

- Twitter was originally created as a platform for Odeo podcasts. - The instagram, created as Burbn from the beginning, was a local application that allowed you to add friends, mark geolocation and post photos.

If you imagine that each new product is created as a response to the request of the audience and an attempt to satisfy her wishes, then judging by how the successful applications started today, it turns out that the creator does not understand what the consumer wants ... or the consumer does not understand his needs.

You can talk about this for a long time, but the fact remains: successful brands / applications / products did not solve the problem voiced by the client, but offered something fundamentally new. Something the client himself might not have guessed. It happens that companies offer products that are only subsequently evaluated by the public positively.

To summarize

Is it a good idea to let customers and potential buyers dictate in which direction your company should develop? Not. As the English proverb says, “a camel is a horse designated by the community.” In other words, if you try to satisfy the needs of everyone, then, in the end, you will not be able to satisfy anyone.

On the other hand, seeing a good idea in front of your eyes and pushing against it because it does not correspond with the original plan is just as reckless. So is there a "golden mean?" Of course. But finding her is very difficult. In fact, if we knew how to find the very “perfect balance” between the needs of the client and what your company needs, we would work on a “new approach” of some kindBig Brand for at least $ 500 an hour.

Trying to give customers what they need (and this is not always what they really want) is a good start, but you need to focus on what really makes a profit. Remember, your most ardent critics may not be your clients. Yes, it’s not easy to take the risk and go “against the crowd,” but as Armin Vit says in his article on the new Instagram logo, “people have a very short memory”: “This is just a matter of time - three months, approximately, - as long as people start to recognize this and consider it the Instagram app logo. ”

If you can catch even a small fraction of such success, you can understand how it works, even if your customers think that they don’t need your innovations at all.

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