The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation — as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a “mouse.” There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I don’t want one of these new fangled devices.
I found this quote on 37signals blog and immediately thought about a conversation I had a long time ago with a friend who did business development for a large NYC agency. We talked about how in their strategy sessions with clients, they would discuss how to elicit information from end users that they could in turn interpret. Let's face it, as customers, we would have not invented the mouse - or anything of that sort.
Whenever you design a survey, a feedback form, write a phone script - throw away everything you know about your product and service. Your customers and prospective customers are not in your head - they don't have your same history and assumptions about what you ask. Instead, look to capture the outcome they're seeking. What job are they trying to do?
Ask the questions, then listen for:
- indications as to how they're solving a problem now or thinking through it
- hints that the second answer is where you should focus
- clues as to what gets their hearts racing in addition to their minds going
Chances are, you'll be on a good track if you pay attention to those. Thinking about the feedback I provide, I'm very precise in exactly what I want - then again, it's a good bet that I don't know everything that would be possible. As a bonus consideration - work on not using yourself as a lead indicator on things. Chances are, you are less like your customers than you think.
[image of the surveying ladies]