“If I asked customers what they want, they would have told me a faster horse.” – Henry Ford
In this video we shared in a post last week, Brian Solis, a digital analyst discusses the influence of the digital revolution on society, and how we can be “shapers” of the digital economy. One of his points is that if customers knew exactly what products and services they wanted, then there would be no such thing as innovation.
We are all familiar with the infamous quote by Henry Ford that is posted above. The greatest thing about it, is it makes you nod your head and think to yourself, “Yes, that is very true.” Instead, Henry Ford guessed what they wanted, and he was right.
Steve Jobs was another firm believer that you shouldn’t ask your customers what they want. After all, they don’t know what they want until they see it.
In order to be disruptive, you have to create a product or service that nobody knows they want yet. Apple is a great example of a company that didn’t ask their customers what they wanted; they created it first. The thing that is not often talked about, though, is how many people fail to do this. Many entrepreneurs spend lots of time and money into building a product and company, that they find out no one wants. You’ve never heard of them…because they’ve failed.
So to answer the question proposed in the title…sometimes. But the real question is, can you even tell what your customer want? You could go around surveying and asking them all…but that would obviously take a lot of time and energy. Or you can do it the easier way: analyze your customer data. Data can guarantee that you improve your customer satisfaction levels.