4.21.2008

Don't assume you understand what your customers want

When I worked at Whirlpool, we spent a lot of time developing concepts and solutions that would help our target customer segments automate their tasks and activities. There was only one problem... that's not what our customers valued. We assumed that anyone would like to have things done for them. Bzzt! Wrong.

No, instead what we learned was that our customers were cravers of information, and that they still wanted to be in control. Don't manage their energy consumption for them; instead, give them information on where their energy usage goes, and they will manage their energy based on that information.

I had an experience on Saturday that left a bad taste in my mouth. In our typical "plan what we are doing Saturday night on Saturday afternoon," Amy and I started calling around for other families that didn't have anything going on. Turns out our neighbors would be around and would love to join us for pizza and socializing. So our menu consisted of gourmet Chicago-style pizza for the adults, and take-n-bake pizza for the kids (no sense letting the kids have our pizza!).

So, at about 5:45pm, 15 minutes before our guests arrive, I fire up the oven and head into town (Snoqualmie Ridge) to pick up a couple pizzas for the kids. I like Nick-n-Willy's because they have the pizzas pre-made - just grab and go. So I grab a couple pizzas and give them my discount card. The lady gives me an explanation that while she will honor our card I am supposed to buy a pizza from the menu that's not pre-made. The problem is she took about 5 minutes to explain this to me. Or at least she made it feel like five minutes. At that moment in time, I wasn't worried about saving a couple bucks, I was worried about getting back home to meet our guests and finish prepping the house. If she would have just said "we don't honor this because of this statement on the back" I would have been fine with it. Instead, she spent a lot of time explaining to me how much she was helping me by honoring the card. Problem is... she wasn't helping me, she was frustrating me.

I am not sure why, but this little hiccup during my day bothered me. I mean it really bothered me to the point where they did damage to their brand.

Never assume you understand what your customers want.

1 comment:

James V Reagan said...

Thank you for exactly proving my point, Mr/Ms Anonymous.