Here's a quiz for you that asks you to determine whether a question you frequently put to customers and partners is about understanding their world and solving their problems with innovative solutions, or whether the question is really a request for information or instructions to solve your own problems as a supplier.
Here we go.
- Please describe your purchasing process. About customer? About supplier?
- How many units will you buy next year? About customer? About supplier?
- Which protocol/standard will win? About customer? About supplier?
- What features should I add? About customer? About supplier?
- Do you like my road map? About customer? About supplier?
- How much would you pay for that? About customer? About supplier?
- Am I better than competition? About customer? About supplier?
Are you suprised by your answers to this quiz? When you think of "listening to customers", do these questions come to mind?
All good questions. Not a one of them about customers' important problems. Do you really want to crowd source the data needed to complete your PRD or business case? More importantly, how do these answers inspire creative problem solving and innovative thinking among your product and service team members?
A better approach is to ask yourself: what do I need to know about customers' environment, changes, responses, process metrics and priorities that would lead me to be able to answer these questions myself? What additional questions would I ask to uncover unmet high value problems?
What would the better questions look like?