What the Customer Wants

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What the Customer Wants

There has been the occasional debate between two schools of thought:

You need to ask the customer what he/she wants; and,

The customer doesn’t know what he/she wants until we show them (remember ol Steve Jobs?)

A bulk of the views I’ve come across so far lie on the side of ‘ask the customer’. However, it isn’t often that you find companies that build sound offerings and experiences that delight customers. And when questioned, a lot of them agree that no one really asked the customer. The huge divide between logical sounding answers on innovation, and contradicting real-life actions.

In fact, it all depends on how much improvement you want.

If you only need an incremental edge over competitors, your company’s efforts too will be similar – marginal targets, marginal budgets, marginal efforts. This might include a superficial but fancy-sounding customer survey, or just a few managers in the meeting room thinking of ways to tweak the existing product. In all, uninspiring intent, uninspiring effort, uninspiring results.

However, if what your business needs is a leap in growth, you need radically new offerings. That’s where customer inputs come in. From personal experience, I’ve come to realize that customers themselves often may not know or be able to hint at what might be a final solution going forward. But your interactions with your customers will be the only thing that will spark of that genius idea for an innovative new solution. Nothing else can trigger that. No research reports or internal ‘brainstorming’ can. But it is the customer who will help you get there. And the whole journey isn’t like a surgical missile strike or a silver bullet or an instant mix; but more like clay pottery.

You start with a meaningless mass of possibilities, spin them around, try things, make corrections, keep spinning, more tries, more corrections, till finally you have something wonderful shaping out. Something previously unthought of. Something incredible.

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Did You Fire the Boss?

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Did You Fire the Boss?

Fired the boss

Image: source

Boss stormed to my desk, shouting, “it’s the fifth time you’re late to work this week. What’s the meaning of this?”

I, obviously surprised and confused, replied, “that… it’s finally Friday?!”

Early in my corporate career, whenever I was to interview for a job, there was one piece of advice I was sure to get. It would be either from family, or close friends, or both.

“In case you’re asked why you want to change jobs, whatever be the real reason, say you need a more challenging role”, would be their order-sounding advice. And each time, that advice would lead to a heated discussion. I would reason out that if I was planning to leave for a particular reason, even if it was to do with a difficult boss, why not just be truthful about it? The retort would be, “Trust me. Do you want the job or not? Nobody wants to hire someone who might blame a company or boss for wanting to leave.”

So while that justification never made sense, at each interview, like clockwork, I would end up explaining exactly why I wanted to switch jobs. And at times, interviews ended exactly like I was warned they would. Despite sometimes having an initial advantage of more relevant experience. While the reasons for it could have been anything, friends and family always blamed it on my ignoring their advice.

Logically though, wouldn’t your reason for wanting to leave something reflect a truer form of YOU than otherwise? Like saying ‘no’ often says more about you than a reluctant or helpless ‘yes’ does. It probably shows what you believe in, what you stand for, and what you don’t tolerate. Which maybe right or foolish. But it reflects your priorities, your grit, even your disposition? The interviewer is looking for the smallest of factors he or she can possibly gather to add to the mix. The mix from which a final decision on whether you are a good fit or not, will emerge.

Many years later, I came across studies citing that between 30-60% of employees quit their boss, and not their company. It meant that one or more persons were the reason for a good segment of employees leaving their companies. Some studies estimated an even higher percent, around 70% or more! While this isn’t a rant against bosses, it is an attempt to know why we can’t, or shouldn’t, be more transparent during interviews.

A close friend of mine cited a relevant story some time back. He had interviewed two candidates for his team, and he had contacted their common ex-boss for verification. The ex-boss strongly advised my friend against hiring them, citing numerous reasons that sounded more personal and spiteful, than to do with talent. However, having already had a few rounds of interactions, and seeing the potential in them, my friend ignored the ex-boss’s advice and hired them. A long time later, he was glad he went against the advice of their earlier boss, as the two were still around, doing really well, both for themselves, and for the company. But there are many others who would have dropped those two at the first sign of a warning from even a stranger.

And yet during interviews, most interviewers still prefer hearing lies and super-cliches as reasons for wanting to change jobs. Candidate reasons instead, will range from their untapped potential, recently discovered talent, more responsibilities, to sharpening their focus/ efforts. Like some candidates whose reply to mentioning weaknesses, is ‘being a perfectionist’. Even if the only thing they’ve been perfect at, is leaving office on the dot, irrespective of deadlines. But you obviously can’t mention forbidden answers.

To conclude with a good ol’ corporate joke:

“Tell your boss what you really think about him/her, and the truth shall set you free, … from your job.” ~ Anonymous

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Think A-Team: For the Design & Strategy needs of Young Businesses

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Think A-Team: For the Design & Strategy needs of Young Businesses

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Image: link

Hi, all you enterprising entrepreneurs,

I am pleased to give to you, ‘Think A-Team’, a growth partnering service for all your business strategy needs.

The intention behind it, is to help you make your business challenges a little less challenging. And to work with you on growing your business faster & better.

The services I have selected to offer, are a result of nearly a decade of close working with entrepreneurs and young businesses. While the portfolio of services will evolve with time, what will remain constant is reliability, effectiveness, accessibility and affordability to young businesses that have had few, if any options as far as growth partners go.

Think A-Team

Give it a try today! And I’ll look forward to working with some of you enterprising folks on building your businesses for you.
Have an awesome weekend!!

R,
Shrutin

Look forward to connecting with y’all on LinkedIn and/or on Twitter.