Successful innovation hinges on getting the problem accurately defined. Lots of marketing experts will tell you to ‘listen to customers’. The trouble is, sometimes what customers say and what is the truth are not the same.
Getting to the truth some other way is sometimes the best solution. This morning we were talking about how companies are using the Web and this topic came up.
An online brokerage firm offered different investment alternatives to its clients from time to time. As part of registering a client on the site, they ask the client to describe his or her risk profile – conservative, moderate risk taker, or adventurous.
But the brokerage does not rely on that answer. Instead they serve up three investment alternatives at a time – one conservative, one moderate, and one higher risk. Then, then over time, they track which ones the client clicks on to eventually determine what the client’s real appetite for risk is. What they found is that often clients either don’t really know what kind of risk appetite they have, or they lie about it.
Once they have the clients real risk appetite pinpointed, then they can offer more appropriate and appealing investment alternatives.
Finding ways to listen to customers without listening to what they say can sometimes provide the competitive insight that gives you the edge. Be ingenious.