I’m an avid blog reader and usually curl up every night with my iPad – never thought I’d write that! – and catch up on blogs. Last night I ran into this post by Eric Brown, Always Listening to the Customer is a Race to Mediocrity.
At my library a relationship with the customer is the focus of every interaction every day. That is why Eric’s premise initially struck me as very wrong. I’ve read it a couple times now, and have come to understand his point better.
I agree that when looking at innovation in an industry, customers in general are probably not your best resource. I believe that anticipating where your customers will want to be in the future is key to innovation. Most customers will not have the detailed insight or the necessary data to make those leaps to the future.
In my opinion, if we are doing our business properly, most customers don’t know or want to know the details of how we get them the product. They don’t care how many key strokes it takes to do a transaction or that the software doesn’t link two key processes. That isn’t part of a good experience. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy a peek under the hood from time to time, but to truly comprehend the minutia of our business is probably of no interest to most of them.
However, if we are not listening to our customers, we have no data to anticipate their future needs and cannot provide those new products or improvements.
I think it is the confluence of listening, anticipating and responding that makes the customer experience the best now and in the future.
I’ve found that I had different reactions to Eric’s blog post if I read it as a person responsible for making customers happy than if I read it as a customer. Read Eric’s post and let me know your thoughts from the company side, from the customer side or both.