Listening to Your Customers is Important for Incremental Improvements, Just Not for Innovation
In my last post I mentioned that listening to your customers is not a good innovation strategy. This may lead you to think that listening to your customers is a bad idea. Actually, that’s not the case.
Listening to your customers is very important, especially for incremental improvements. If you’ve already decided on a product, and you’re trying to improve it, getting feedback from customers is a good idea.
You can ask customers what they would improve about your product, or if there are any problems. For example, if you release a software product, you can ask if there are any bugs. If there are, you’ll want to fix those bugs as fast as you can. The best way to do that is to get feedback from your customers. You can do that by posting a big “FEEDBACK HERE” button on your website.
This is how you make incremental product improvements. In other words, this is how you tweak a product.
But if you want to make a leap in product innovation, listening to your customers is not the way to go.
Like I mentioned in the last post, customers don’t know what they want next. They can tell you what they like and don’t like about your current product, but they can’t tell you what the next great product will be.
If you want to make the jump from a flip phone to the iPhone, you can’t rely on your customers to do the job. Figuring out what the next great product will be is the job of innovative designers.
The lesson is this: if you’re just trying to improve a product that you’ve already launched, then by all means tap into your customer base for feedback. Ask them if they can think of any ways to improve your product or if there are any bugs. Get feedback from every customer you can.
But if you want to make the next iPad, don’t leave the job to your customers. Set up an innovation team with the most creative minds you can get in one room, and let them go to work. If you do, you just might come up with the next iPad. Besides, someone has to do it. The next great idea is just around the corner. Are you going to let Steve Jobs do it again?