At first the idea of not listening to customer needs shocked me, but the logic soon made sense. This innovative idea of ignoring what customers say comes from Anthony Ulwick’s What Customers Want.
The idea is to ignore what they want, and instead, focus completely on what they NEED to get the job done. It boils down to three main concepts that very well could change the way you do business.
1) Ignore What they Want– Customers don’t always know what they want. They only know what they THINK they want. This is true for all consumers. I may go into a shoe store and think I want some open toe shoes when what I really want is shoes that let my feet breathe. Customers often assume their needs can only be met one way, and that is what they convey to you. This is why so many companies and products fail every year despite lots of consumer research. They aren’t asking the right questions.
2) Customers Speak a Different Language– You may ask, what kind of shoe do you prefer? They may answer by saying flip flops, but they may ONLY like flip flops because they are comfortable. What the customer is really saying is that they like comfortable shoes. What you, as a business, hear is “make more flip-flops.”
3) Focus on What they REALLY Need– The best way to please customers is to listen to what they really need to get the job done. For example, your customers may say they want a bigger handle on their razors. Your job as a business owner is to find out WHY are they asking for bigger handles. Upon asking why, you will discover they just want a better grip. Once you understand this, you can then go and invent rubber grip razor handles and the customers will be just as happy!
So, stop listening to what your customers are saying and start asking WHY?