If a company asked you what your biggest complaint about their product is, you'd be able to tell them off the top of your head, right?
Over at grokdotcom.com, Robert Gorrell talks about how he completely struck out this morning when he tried to answer "What's the #1 complaint about point-and-shoot digital cameras?"
- Shoddy image stabilization
- Grainy low-light images
- Poor red eye reduction
Sound pretty good, don't they? But he wasn't even close.
The number one complaint that customers have is... the response time between clicking the button and the camera actually taking a picture!
There's nothing worse than a great shot ruined because it took too long to take the picture. Yet, that wasn't even one of Robert's top-of-the-head guesses! But when he heard that complaint, he immediately thought:
"Yes! Exactly! That's my least favorite thing about point-and-shoot digitals, too! So, why didn't I know that? Am I backpedaling from my previous answers? Absolutely."
Would you have guessed it? I didn't... never even entered my head, even though my friends and I constantly lament the amazing photos that we just missed. (And the funny faces I constantly make by accident!)
This is exactly why customers are horrible at being a direct source of new ideas for a company--because they don't always know what factors are the most important to themselves!
Customers aren't looking to improve the product or find new opportunities.
They just want to use it! Therefore, there's no reason to make a note of opportunities.
Customers have no motivation to hang onto their ideas and pass them onto a company. No one is listening, and the idea won't be appreciated, so what's the point of going to the effort of writing it down and turning it in.
But, most importantly, most people (not just customers) have a really tough time thinking beyond what they know.
If a slow camera response time is normal and what they've always experienced, the average customer wouldn't notice it as a problem. But when the problem is pointed out, it suddenly becomes glaringly obvious.
For those reasons, it's a waste of time for a company to just ask random customers for ideas. It's very rare that anything extraordinary could come of it.
Does this mean that customers are not a good source of ideas? No, they are a great source of ideas--just not from direct questioning tactics!
Tomorrow, I'll tell you how it is possible to actually get ideas from customers!