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Listening to customers: An absolute no-brainer or maybe just unnecessary?

 “If you don’t listen to your customers you will fail. But if you only listen to your customers you will also fail.”

 – Amazon slogan

Should we listen to them?

I know. You’d probably be thinking that’s a silly question…

After all, not listening to the people that would ultimately decide whether ‘our thing’ is worth their hard-earned cash or not sounds rather counter-intuitive.

However, here is the thing: at least when it comes to creating a new product (especially, if it’s your first one) it seems that things are not as straightforward as you would imagine.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

Well, here are 3 reasons to get you started:

Consumers are pretty bad predicting their own future behaviour

That’s right – (most) people suck at predicting what they’re going to do tomorrow, let alone what they are going to do months down the road.

So, by putting them in a situation where they need to predict how they will act in a hypothetical future cenario, you risk getting unreliable input.

People don’t know what they want until you show it to them

Does this phrase sound familiar?

That’s right – it’s a famous quote from Steve Jobs in a 1998 interview with Business Week!

Why did he say that?

Well, Jobs himself never really explained what made him think this way but nonetheless many others tend to adopt this line of thinking.

Take for example Lior Arussy a supporter of this worldview. In a post of him on this topic he’s asking: “Was the IPod, IPad or IPhone developed from customer surveys? Did the Wii come about because of customer feedback cards? Were scooters the idea of a bunch of kids needing more exercise? Your answers should be a resounding NO! Customers cannot do your thinking for you; they like what they see, when they see it.

What is the moral of the story, according to the supporters of this argument?

It’s not customers’ job to know what they want!

– It can act as a stumbling block to getting/staying ahead of the curve

The logic behind that statement?

Here you go: by listening to customers, you risk falling into the sameness trap.

Why is that?

Gregory Ciotti thinks that’s the case because “when you rely on consumer input,

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