The Customer Can Be Wrong

September 4, 2014

in Ideas, Product Management, Sales

“Customer feedback is great for telling you what you did wrong. It’s terrible at telling you what you should do next.”
—Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote

Mark Cuban tweeted a link to a fantastic post today entitled, “The Customer Is Mostly Wrong.” I have two main thoughts on the topic

Customer Discovery

Customer discovery is a terrific framework for vetting startup ideas cheaply and before investing too much cash in building something that will never have wings. The trick is to see through what people say. You need to understand them. What do they really want? What are their motivators? How do they buy? Who is the buyer? Once you understand those things, it provides a better framework for you to consider your startup idea. You DO NOT need customers to love your startup idea.

In fact, sometimes if they like the idea too much it can mean that you have done a bad job at getting them to be critical and truthful.

Feature Fatigue

Early on in our startup, we said yes to everyone with every feature request. And we chased those features too much. This article in particular has a terrific section on saying “No” to feature requests. Feature fatigue can wear out your startup, not provide sufficient return on investment, and wear out your clients as the product shifts too much and does too much.

What are your thoughts on ways the customer can be wrong?


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