The benefits of listening to customers: What you can learn

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Customers can be a valuable source of insight for areas that need improving with your operations. They may highlight new features that your offerings could benefit from, areas that competitors are better at, or their frustrations with your offerings. This article explores the value that comes from speaking (and more importantly listing) to customers. 

New opportunities and ideas

One of the main things that you can learn from your customers is opportunities for new products or features that the customers would value. Sometimes a brief conversation will highlight easy adaptations that you could make to your product or service. 

One specific opportunity is to speak with lead users – those users that are most advanced and may already be making improvements to your offerings to better meet their needs. These customers will be at the forefront of technological advances and may have their own thoughts and opinions on the trajectory of the industry. 

Competitor actions

Customers may also have some visibility of your competitor’s new product introductions. Sometimes discussions will highlight how your offerings compare to alternatives in the marketplace – the things that customers wish that you could add to your offerings.

Speaking with customers can give you some visibility of changes that you will want to make to better compete with alternatives – helping you understand the reasons why they choose your offerings for certain products, and also the reasons why they opt for competitor offerings in alternative situations. 

Early warning on areas that you can improve upon

Speaking with customers can also give you an early warning sign of issues with your products and services. It can help flag up things that they are finding confusing, annoying, or would like to be improved. 

Building relations and taking the customers seriously can help to resolve the issues before they result in a loss of business. Given the highlighted issues may apply across your customers, understanding what customers find needs improving with your offerings can be important at retaining customers beyond the specific client that raised the issue.  

Final thoughts: It is important that the insight impacts back onto the design process

While listening to customers has clear benefits – it is also important that the insight actually is fed back and influences the development or servicing of your products. Listening, but taking action is not enough – capturing the full benefit of customer insight requires changes to be made within your organization. 

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