Think about the kind of product feedback you solicit from customers. Now think about the kind of demands your sales force routinely makes related to features/functionality. Companies commonly end up with a laundry list of “what I want the product to do.” Responding to these types of requests is commendable (beats ignoring them) but misses the opportunity to innovate.
Customers don’t keep this secret consciously, but they rarely consider what they are trying to accomplish. Companies would be better served to re-frame the question to focus on customer goals. “What are you trying to accomplish?” not “what do you want?” If the difference between these two approaches isn’t intuitive, consider an example.
Q: Which Mercedes customers asked for:
- Blind Spot Assist
- Distronic Plus
Instead, through a combination of direct observation, one-on-one conversations, and focus groups, companies should identify what the customer is trying to accomplish (in Mercedes’ case to arrive safely at their destination). Mercedes’ response to this goal (safety) resulted in innovative solutions which provide competitive differentiation in the market.
Most customers are happy to be asked their opinion if they think their input will provide the impetus for a change. The pivot point to overcoming this secret is to focus on what customers are trying to accomplish. Innovate around customer goals and you can dominate the market.