Pleasing the Customer

What pleases the customer? When you give them something they want? Maybe. But would they be more pleased if you give them something they didn’t expect, but might love?

I just finished the Steve Jobs biography . It seems Jobs was not a fan of market research. You know, those studies that try to find out what people want.

Steve Jobs

The problem with market research, other than it’s not reliable, is that it’s past tense. Surveys don’t discover what people will want in the future, they don’t even determine what people like now. What market research does is show you is what customers have liked up to this point. We really can’t predict what we will like in the future, can we? Go ahead, try to predict the new food you will love next month. You won’t know until you taste it.

Writing on the Customer’s Blank Page

The challenge is to create those things customers want, but don’t yet know they want. What Jobs called ‘reading things that are not yet on the page,’  his way of describing the Apple approach to innovation. Jobs and Apple continuously amazed us with things we wanted only after they wrote them on our blank page. How, and how can you do the same with your customers?

Jobs’ answer was not to create products, or strive for profit, but instead to create art. He thought of himself as an artist, and considered Apple the intersection of Artistry + Technology. Jobs was obsessive about the details that made a product beautiful and elegant. There’s no doubt he had insights into what the future might hold for technology, but so did others. What makes Apple products different is the art.

I think that’s what each business needs to find: their intersection. Insurance + ____________, Education + ___________, Dry Cleaning + ____________. That blank is the outside-your-industry influence that makes you unique, innovative. It allows you to create products and services, so that when a customer turns the page, the don’t see a blank sheet, they see something that they previously didn’t know they wanted, but now love.

What’s your intersection?


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2 comments
EricUrbane
EricUrbane

Hi Jay, You have penned a well articulated article, however I believe most folks are way too afraid to ever fill in the blanks. Jobs answered to no one, and didn't care what others thought. Those close to him thought he was crazy. By and large, people are much more interested in being liked and being right than being creative and innovative. Creating new and innovative products requires courage, which many lack.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

 @EricUrbane One of Jobs' strengths was that he did not care what people thought about him, or if he did, he didn't let it deter him for doing what he knew he should do. 

 

It's always a mystery why people can't pull the trigger and do the things they know they should do to be more successful than they are. I agree with your assessment that it takes courage to overcome the fear of being different, or maybe more appropriately: the fear of being something new.