Why Customer Opinions Matter and How They Can Lead to Company Innovation
As a company grows and sales become much easier to obtain, it’s easy to lose sight of the customer. For instance, in the early days of Amazon.com, they operated out of a garage where every new sale triggered a bell ringing. The company’s servers demanded so much electricity that even a hair dryer being used at home risked blowing the fuse box. Pretty soon, the bell has to be disabled because it wouldn’t stop ringing, yet some would argue that Amazon has never lost focus on its customers since those early days.
There’s a good lesson there for businesses that have more customers than they can handle right now and are struggling. In this article, we look at why customers’ opinions are so important and when it makes sense to let them help give innovation a push.
Know What Customers Are Thinking
Getting into the mind of the customers doesn’t necessarily require the CEO to sit in the same room with their therapist and listen to their customer’s troubles. Instead, by using a customer survey run by a professional team that specialize in them like Avannis, it’s possible to do the next best thing.
As Tony Robbins likes to say, “Success leaves clues.” True enough. In the case of customer surveys, it can be something innocuously mentioned by a single customer that leads the company down a better path.
What Do Your Customers Want?
If they’ve mentioned that they wish the company would offer a different type of product, listen to that. That indicates that at least one or more existing customers are doing the product innovation for you. Now, clearly not every random suggestion is going to be a good one. Nevertheless, run it up the flagpole by giving it due consideration.
For instance, I own a Nokia smartphone. It’s more affordable than other phones that compete with it and it has newer specifications. It also provides security updates for Android on a monthly basis which my Samsung phone never did. It keeps me safer. I wish Nokia would make a new Android tablet or an e-reader that I could purchase as well, but alas…
This is a lost opportunity for the company in an area of technology that’s currently seeing little real innovation or improvement.
Discerning Good Ideas for Bad Ones
It’s important to discern the good suggestions from ones that aren’t practical.
While one customer may suggest something that they’d like to see, maybe there’s a limited market for it. For instance, Nokia offered the Nokia N1 tablet back in 2015. Maybe it didn’t sell well enough to warrant continuing to produce Android tablets after that time? Who knows.
Market research is needed to follow up on interesting ideas to see whether there’s a real market for them. It’s then necessary to see what features are most requested and the price point potential buyers are willing to pay. Only then can going into production with the new product and a marketing plan be properly assessed.
Opinions from customers are useful. Many companies never innovate without them. Also, they provide suggestions that may never have occurred to employees of the company otherwise. Don’t waste them. There might be a diamond in the rough just waiting to be found.