Today’s post includes an excerpt of a guide I wrote for GetFeedback in November 2020. The original guide can be found here, and a video excerpt can be found here.

Does this sound like your company’s leadership: When it comes to developing your product roadmap and prioritizing customer feedback, you’ve got a CEO who knows exactly what to build but with no consideration for customers and what problems they need to solve.

Product design is nonsensical if the customer’s voice isn’t brought into it. As Seth Godin says: you’ll be finding customers for your products, not products for your customers.

One of the foundational principles of a customer-centric culture in my new book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business (Advantage|ForbesBook), is that companies must put people before products. If they don’t design for (potential) customers, who are they designing for?

Listening to customers on an ongoing basis, hearing what problems they need to solve, and learning how they are using your products to solve those problems are all critical to prioritizing product enhancements and new product design. Customers buy and use your products thinking they will solve a specific problem for them. If they don’t, they will try to use them in the way they had hoped they would work – or go elsewhere. Either way, it’s frustrating for customers. So it’s critical to take the time to listen to customers, learn about your customers (develop personas), and always put the customer at the heart of your product development decisions.

Product-centric organizations focus on building and bringing products to the market rather than focusing on the customers that purchase their products. They develop new products using the latest tools, technology, and processes without consideration for the customer. Product-centric companies are defined by the products they develop, and those products may or may not meet customers’ needs. In other words, they find customers for their products rather than products for their customers. They aren’t looking to solve problems or add value, they are looking to extend their product reach to anyone and everyone.

In customer-centric organizations, the customer is at the heart of everything a company does. No discussions, decisions, or designs happen without bringing the customer voice into it. Without asking: How will this impact the customer? How will it make her feel? How will it help her solve her problem or do the job she’s trying to do? How will it add value for her? It means the business does all of these things with the customer’s best interests in mind

Product-centric decisions are based on Product teams or company executives thinking they know what’s best for customers. On the other hand, customer-centric decisions are made based what they hear from and learn about their customers.

You can never go wrong by informing your product development and your customer experience strategy with ongoing customer feedback – or by putting the customer at the center of all of your product or business decisions.

Life’s too short to build something nobody wants. ~ Ash Maurya

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2021, she wrote the manuscript for her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business, which is now available to preorder on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and more! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.

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