Do you think your customers know what they want?

If you answered yes then maybe you need to think again…More often than not your potential customers don’t know what (products) they want. But they definitely know what problem they want to get solved or what needs they need to get addressed. And it is up to the solution provider to figure out what will address the customer problem or needs.

The simple example is a case wherein customer is looking for some food (the solution) because customer is hungry (the problem). What is solution provider’s role? It is to figure out many things before you food plate of food in front of that customer. The examples of thing, which need to be figured out, are

  1. What type of food this customer likes?
    • Veg/Non-Veg, Hot/Cold, Spicy/Non-Spicy, Regional/Continental etc.
  2. What quantity of food will suffice this customer?
    • Small, Medium or Large etc.
  3. How much will this customer be willing to pay for food?
    • $1, $5, $10 or $100 etc.

I am sure the list can keep growing but I guess you get the point. The first issue I see is that most organizations assume that they either know what customer wants or assume that customer does not know what want before they provide the solution. Instead the best thing to do would be to dig deeper to understand needs – expressed, underexpresed, and unexpressed. Most organizations get so ‘(their) product/solution’ centric that they forget to uncover or understand what problem customer wants to be solved and focus way too much on ‘why their company product is best on in the market’.

Having said that it still does not mean that customer will tell you ‘what he/she exactly needs’ instead they will communicate ‘what they think will solve his/her problem’ and sometimes it may not be the best solution for the customer. You may have seen the following picture many times but it provides such a meaningful information that I can’t resist to show it here

Customer Needs

No wonder Henry Ford said

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Okay that may be an extreme statement and I am sure if Henry had dug deeper he would have understood that his customer wanted ‘transport mechanism to travel faster’, which would have lead him to believe that since he cannot get horse to run faster he must design something that can do that…and hence justified the need for a ‘car’.

As you can see, it is again the responsibility of solution provider to figure out what will serve the customer best and offer that as a solution…sometimes it may mean tweaking your company solution or offering suggestion on why your company solution will not fit the purpose but solution from some other company. Now, that’s the most difficult part but if you want our customer to come back to you then we must resist the temptation to ‘sell’ your product and provide a suggestion that is ‘right’ for the customer.

Is that too much to ask for?