Trust But Verify

Posted on by in Business, Customer Service, Design, Leadership, Remarkability

Two common errors made about remarkability are these.  First, that remarkability is measured by what we think is remarkable (it’s not).  Remarkability is always measured by what the customer or recipient of the action (spouse, friend, church member, association member, etc.) thinks is remarkable. And second, that customers know what they want (they often don’t—especially when it comes to something new). Why?  Here are two top reasons.

One, most customers can only access what they’ve already experienced in the past.  So, for example, when Kodak test marketed the idea of one-hour photo processing to their customers back in the early 1980’s (all of whom were accustomed to dropping off their film at the Kodak Fotomat and picking up their film three days later), their customers passed on the idea.  Unfortunately, Kodak listened to their customers and ended up late to the game, when they could have owned the market.

Two, customers lie.  It’s part of our nature.  When asked, “Would you prefer something good or something bad?” most people will tell us what they perceive to be the “right” or “better” or “correct” response.  For example, the other day, I was directed to a website by a fellow speaker, Steven S. Little,  On his website he has a short video clip entitled, “The Potato Chip Rule,” which basically states that if you ask customers, “Would you prefer high salt, medium salt or low salt on your potato chips?” and “Would you prefer heavy oil, medium oil or light oil?”, customers will overwhelmingly say, “I prefer low-salt, low-oil potato chips”.  However, if you engage them in a blindfold taste test, they’ll pick the high-salt, high-oil potato chips every time (i.e. customers don’t always tell the truth).

In other words, when it comes to creating something remarkable, especially if it’s something radically new, you’ll want to fast prototype it so that you can test it with customers and then get their response.  Testing an idea, before a customer can actually experience it will probably cause you to choose safe predictable ideas. Instead, the next time you have an idea that you believe in your gut will be remarkable, go for it.  But never forget, once your idea can be experienced, the customer reigns as king (i.e. if they’re not remarking to others about your idea, it’s not remarkable). “Trust but verify” still lives on!

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