Top 7 things that bring customer value... from an engineer who builds it

DecisionsKnow thy customer - how well do you know your customer? Are there new ways you could be engaging with them? Workshops, hackathons, product demos, anything that gives you the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with them. What are their pain points, what are they struggling with? Don’t assume, talk to them directly. What exactly are they after? Identify one thing that will make a big improvement in their lives.

Here are my 7 tips for a more customer-focused team:

  1. Data, data everywhere - Everyone is talking about data. Collecting, and analysing it. Building products with it, improving services with it. Focus on collecting quality data rather than data for data’s sake.
  2. Be with someone who wants to see you grow - identify new channels with which to engage your customer, for example, if it’s only through a Web browser can you engage through mobile. Focus on ways you can change customer behaviour that allows you to grow.
  3. ‘I give away thousands of paintings for free’ - Banksy. What can you give away for free? The more you can allow your customer to use/play with your product the more it can lead to an iterative relationship with them where they can get value from your product by adding value to your product.
  4. ‘When I played in the Sandbox, the cat kept covering me up’ - Rodney Dangerfield. Nothing kills an idea faster off the ground than a long chain of people who need to sign off on an idea before it goes out to a customer. The fewer the people you need permission from the better.
  5. The best is the enemy of the good - Voltaire
    Aim to get it in front of the customer as soon as possible. Stop trying to perfect the idea. You can always limit the customers who can use your product if you want to protect against reputational damage. Build small and gradually get bigger. Stop trying to do too much before you release it to the customer.
  6. We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us - what tools are you going to use? Open-source or closed? It’s better to use open-source if you don’t want to invest a lot of time and effort in lots of licences, particularly if you’ve not used the tools before. You want to spend time building your product, not learning how to use your tools.
  7. None of us is as smart as all of us - Ken Blanchard. Your team needs to be excited about the coming changes, not terrified they will have more work to do. Training, working together in new ways, building a culture of trust and openness about mistakes and learnings.

Making your team become more customer-centred may sound hard. But I promise you, if you follow these tips it will help you stay focused and be a great payoff: You will achieve much better results, sustainably grow your business and most importantly deliver products your customer really needs and cares about. Build these new pillars and your products can't help succeed. 

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