Better Blog

This Whole Time I Haven't Been Thinking About the Customer

March 07, 2019

When you scour the web you’ll find there’s an endless stream of content that gives you the same advice: Listen to your customers. On the surface you might think this is pretty much common sense, but I don’t think many people (including myself) really put this advice into practice. A few days ago I just finished reading Anything You Want by Derek Silvers, and I realized that up until now, nothing I have built or done has actually been for the customer. And I think that’s a huge part of why I’ve failed to launch a successful business so far.

For example, many of my ideas center around how to help creatives. If I could own my dream company today, it would be one that helped artists, singers, writers, builders do what they love without worrying about income. However, whenever I start a project, the first things I would think of are: “How am I going to make money from this?” Or: “How would I price this?” Never once do I ask myself, “How could this business be the best possible experience for the customer?” - (and no, creating a beautiful mock-up is not what I mean when I say experience)

It’s not that I’m selfish and am looking to make a quick buck, but moreso the fact that I want to create a sustainable business. But sustainability doesn’t matter if you’re creating a product that’s good at making money vs creating a product that’s actually making the customer’s life better.

In the book “Anything You Want”, Silvers mentions that right when he started his online CD marketplace business he wrote down “what his utopian dream-come true distribution deal would look like from his musician’s point of view”. The list included features such as:

  • Need to be paid out out every week as a musician selling her CD
  • No paid placements

This list ended up becoming the mission for his company, and it was entirely created from the customer’s point of view. Throughout the book you’ll find that all the choices he makes has a common theme: the answer centers around his mission and doing what was actually best for the customer. And doing what’s best for the customer can be done in some ways you wouldn’t think of:

  • Don’t worry about creating a terms & conditions or privacy policy page. Think about it: Do these pages actually help the customer? Or is it just a sales tactic?
  • Don’t trade money for customers. Customers will see through your motives (such as placing ads) and they’ll know were your allegiance lies.
  • Always strive to solve the customer’s problem, even if it means making your company eventually obsolete. That’s true customer enlightenment.

There’s a lot more in his book, but the message is clear: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and do what’s right for them. Even in situations where your business might lose money on a return or you need to spend a few extra hours to get them set up, always strive to give the customer the best possible experience. If this isn’t important to you, then you might want to rethink exactly what kind of business you’re trying to create.

I highly recommend reading “Anything You Want” especially the chapters “Ideas are just a multiplier of execution” and “This is just one of many options”

Ju Hae Lee

Personal blog by Ju Hae Lee
I try to write code