Customers, buyers and liars

Jeff had a problem. He was head of product at a leading Web2.0 company and his customers did not like what he had to say. You see, Jeff needed to add layers to his cake. He needed to sell:

  • New things to the same people

  • The same things to new people.

Jeff knows that Customer Acquisition Costs can be and get expensive so he opts for the latter.

Only people hate it. ‘It ruins the charm’ the same people tell him. He asked, the people spoke, done deal. Right?

Maybe not. What people say is the trickiest way to figure out what a customer wants. People respond all kinds of ways in one set of conditions and the opposite in different ones. This delta is the crux of much of the behavioral science that popular books are built on.

Jeff decides to move past what customers Say and see what customers Do. He and his team introduce the new way to buy things. Those same customers were right, they did not like it. But all of the new customers loved it and the eBay Buy-It-Now button is still a great innovation for the company.

Patrick had a similar problem. His was with food. ‘What kind of food do you want?’ he’d survey people. ‘Healthier!’ They replied.

Patrick took this information to his head chef and asked for something healthier. The chef did. Patrick took the samples back to the people and they said, ‘Nah, I want something that tastes better too.’ This back and forth went on until Patrick wondered if they were asking the wrong questions. It made sense that people wanted something healthier. It’s a warning too.

Anytime an answer is pro-social or anti-change, people over-index their responses. 🐦

Health is prosocial, we all want to be healthier. Patrick changed the question. In the new surveys it wasn’t health that people valued but taste. He took this to his head chef then the new iteration out to the market and the people loved it.

People said they wanted health then taste but when the pizza hit their mouth the inverse was the indicator. People want good taste first. This and other good decisions from Patrick Doyle is why Domino’s Pizza is the real Cinderella of this a bull market (Facebook is Anastasia).

Hearing customers is important but it’s also not enough. Articulating wants is hard too. eBay was so early people were just getting acclimated to buying and selling online from strangers. There wasn’t enough time to figure out better ways.

Talking and listening to customers is a good start and not a finish line. Conversations are guide posts for the rest of the journey.