What Your Customers Want


Your customers don't know what they want. And to assume otherwise is folly. When you begin relying totally on customers to be your product development department, you are asking for serious trouble.

I am not saying that you should discount customer input. However, asking customers what they want is a marketing question and requires experienced marketers to answer.

Marketers have the objectivity to look at the marketplace, see through the consumer's self-deception and discern the answer to a tough question that requires some serious analysis.

It is behavior that you need to be learning about from your consumers. Ask them questions that will get to the heart of how they use your products and services. This is where their experience is crucial.

Let's take an example to illustrate the difference between a "what do you want" and "what do you do" question. Krispy Kreme, the world's best donut-maker, did some customer research in the 1980s to learn more about the customer experience.

They didn't ask, "what do you want in a donut?" They asked questions like, "what do you like about Krispy Kreme?" and "when do you buy donuts?"

Answers to those questions helped them redesign the Krispy Kreme experience. They learned that people were happiest when the donuts were hot. Additionally, they heard loud and clear that consumers had no idea when the hot donuts were coming down the conveyor belt. Voila! The "Hot Now" sign was born.

Consumers said they often were in a hurry, heading to a morning meeting when they stopped for donuts. Customers did not like having to stand in line to wait for the sweet treats. From this, marketers decided to install drive-in windows.

If they had asked customers "what do you want in a donut," they may have produced some low carb abomination that would have crashed to the floor like a heavy Dunkin Donut. Friends, when you want a donut, the last thing you are thinking about is carbs.

So, ask the right questions of your consumer, then let the right people review the research and everyone benefits.


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