In every other business area—e.g. production or accounting—surprises are unwelcome. But when you are surprised by customer needs that competitors have missed, you have an edge. Seek these out in free-thinking, customer-led interviews, maintain a probing curiosity, and avoid rigid schedules that discourage flexibility. Be surprised. And be happy about it.
More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 10).
If you’re dragging in your list of questions and the customer feels they’re doing you a favor… it’s supplier-led. But if you keep the scope broad enough to interest them, let them lead you to what interests them, and help them think deeply through attentive probing… it’s customer-led. It’s also much more effective.
More in article, The Best Customer Interviews Use a Digital Projector (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).
Many suppliers ask “low-lumen” questions that neither illuminate nor engage customers. They may be biased, close-ended or too complex. Beware requesting sensitive information, or asking, “What would you pay for this?” When you ask for problems, don’t try to “help” with examples. Instead, let the customer choose the next topic to discuss.
Read more in article, Lean Startup: A Great Approach Requiring “B2B Pre-Work” (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth.) Lean Startup wisely recommends testing assumptions and learning from customers at the first opportunity. For most B2B suppliers, this “first opportunity” to learn comes before a prototype is created – through early voice-of-customer interviews that mine the insight and foresight of highly-knowledgeable customers.