Monday, March 11, 2013

Stop Listening to Your Customers
by Steve Martin  |   1:00 PM January 30, 2013

We have heard this before but it is a very difficult thing to incorporate into the culture of your business—don’t listen to your customer, study them!!

Every business is interested in what influences and persuades their customers and consumers, and one of the more common strategies to eliciting this information is to simply ask them. There are various ways that this can be done: You can ask customers directly during a face to face meeting, or you could get them to complete a survey or an online questionnaire. … 
…. But regardless of how you go about asking the question, you need to recognize that there is a fundamental problem with asking people what will persuade them to change: Most of the time they won't know the answer.
It's not that they won't give an answer. They'll often provide plenty. It's just that the answers they provide will have a high likelihood of being wrong…
…. Behavioral scientists Wes Schultz and Robert Cialdini provide compelling evidence of why asking people to predict what will influence their future decisions and behaviors is so often ineffective. In one set of studies, they asked several hundred homeowners in California to predict which of four messages would be most successful at persuading them to take steps to conserve energy and reduce their overall consumption. The four messages were 1) conserving energy helps the environment; 2) conserving energy protects future societies; 3) conserving energy saves you money; 4) many of your neighbors are already conserving energy. 
Those shown the message about what their neighbors were doing rated it as the least likely to influence their behaviors. Yet when meter readings were taken, the researchers discovered that this was the most effective message when it came to changing behavior even though this same message was rejected by most as having any sway… 
,,,, So when it comes to getting to the heart of what actually drives decisions and behaviors, a message emerges that at first glance appears counter-intuitive: Stop listening to your customers…. 
… The implication seems clear. Ask fewer questions about what people will do and instead set up small field tests and controlled studies that observe what they actually do. In most instances, they will be lot cheaper than traditional market research approaches, and yet the insights they reveal could provide a real competitive advantage to your business

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