A few days ago we talked about the dangers of “Feature Creep”. In light of this post a fellow Heretic asked me how to get proper product feedback — as simply asking your customer often doesn’t yield good answers.
Legend has it that Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Regardless if this quote is indeed something Henry Ford said or not — it’s often right. There are all sorts of issues with asking people for direct feedback — they can’t properly express what they are missing as they can’t imagine the future state; they want to please the person who’s asking them and avoid telling the hard truth; they have preconceived and/or cultural notions of what the solution might be…
The better way is to start with deep customer empathy. Free yourself from any preconceived ideas about your product or service and observe your customer “in the wild”. Put yourself in your customers shoes. See the world with their eyes — and don’t try to immediately jump to conclusions and solutions but feel their problems and challenges.
Only when you truly understand your customer can you build solution which are solving real problems (and thus create real value).