For new ideas you need to do more than just listen to your customers

Imagine if you asked your customers what else they would like you to provide that you’re not currently offering. They might suggest things that are crazy, or that would blow your budget, or which are a bad fit, etc. But there’s a finite chance that they will come up with something that you think has merit. Companies can definitely get worthwhile ideas from listening to customers – see yesterday’s post for more on this. And these can include ideas for new products and services that you can offer. So the voice of the customer is important – but your own company should also be striving to innovate. As Sir Stuart Rose, former CEO of Marks and Spencer put it, “Good business leaders should be half a step ahead of what customers want, ie they don’t actually quite know they want it. That’s what innovation’s about”. So yes – listen regularly, openly and humbly to the voice of your customers – but combine that with an internal focus on innovation.

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