4 Myths About Being a Customer-Centric Organization (and Why These Barriers Could Hamstring Your Product’s Potential)

In part 1, I shared the first two myths that often afflict organizations in their product development process and evolution: “always listen to customers” and “customer centricity slows down development.”

In this article, I continue to build on these themes and share two more common areas where organizations could consider to focus more efforts to overcome.

Myth #3:  Talking to power users and SMEs is the best way to get input.

While power users are an important stakeholder to represent user feedback, they carry their own biases, and building a product to power users’ standards might alienate other user groups. Or it might ensure you miss out on an opportunity to reach users who don’t necessarily need to use every feature or functionality to get real value from your product.

When determining who to include in customer research, we suggest considering an intentionally diverse set of user groups so you can approach from all angles and uncover new or unexpected use cases that might fuel future innovations. This is an especially important aspect for your sales and go-to-market teams, who will likely welcome and appreciate a broader market to target and engage with.

Some examples could include: previous users, infrequent users, potential new customers, users who only use a small portion of the product (e.g., reporting, or data extracts), or secondary users (users who might not directly use the product but have a dependency on its information or rely on others to leverage it).

So, we recommend to not fall into an easy trap of gravitating only to your power users for inputs and ideas – they will for sure have great insights, but likely won’t cover a broad enough spectrum of the market to guide your product journey into its next dimension.

Myth #4:  It’s hard to access customers.

While there are sometimes actual barriers to accessing customers for direct interviews or focus groups, such as gatekeepers within the sales teams or legal barriers, interviews aren’t the only technique to access customer needs and sentiments.

User interviews can be very powerful but also come with their own set of challenges and biases (such as recency bias, confirmation bias, or personal interaction bias). The most successful teams use a combination of tactics to truly become customer-centric. Some of these techniques include:

  • Scouring the data coming in from customer service teams
  • Checking every angle of user interaction data and analytics
  • Shadowing on-the-job to dive deep into the day-in-the-life of a typical customer
  • Watching other people demo the product to see how they talk about it or what “hacks” they call out along the way
  • Conducting A/B tests
  • Talking to past users in addition to current users
  • Reading publicly available reviews on various blogs and forums

With these considerations, there are clearly a number of methods and channels to capture deep insights and feedback. Challenging your team to put in some extra hands-on labor incorporating some of the ideas above proves that it’s not so hard to access the customer, but rather takes some craftiness and ingenuity to perhaps unlock an even deeper set of discoveries – which ultimately could prove invaluable to your efforts ahead.

In concluding our “4 Myths” series, I’ve tried to demystify some common barriers or misperceptions that might be impacting your organization’s product developments efforts – and I hope it can help you to unlock your team’s full potential in its ambition of being truly customer centric. I welcome your thoughts and experiences on this topic!

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