Tapping customers for product ideas

Too many companies take the “If we build it, they will come” philosophy of product design. They lose sight of their customers and start designing for themselves. As a general rule, if you can navigate your site/product/whathaveyou with your eyes closed and both hands tied behind your back, you are not the customer.

An INC article reveals how Austin-based internet startup Volusion works to tap its customers for product ideas. Let’s call it an “If they help us build it, it’s more likely to appeal to them and people like them” approach. Not as catchy as the original, but Volusion’s success is evidence that high hopes pale in comparison to real growth.

What it’s doing right:

  • User surveys that include explicit requests for improvement suggestions.
  • Online forum where customers can vote on each others’ suggestions.
  • Weekly cross-functional meetings to discuss product improvements.
  • Leveraging salespeople and CSRs to solicit feedback from customers.
  • Focus on the ‘why’ of customer requests rather than the ‘what’.

According to Volusion’s Chief Customer Officer, customer suggestions account for 90% of product improvements. Customers are acutely aware of usability problems and your customer-facing employees hear about them all day long – ask and act.

This entry was posted in Feedback, Product design, VOC. Bookmark the permalink.

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