Recently, the sentence "the customer is always right" came up. While this adage shows the importance of customer feedback, it undervalues the expertise of professionals who have dedicated years to mastering their craft.
Here's why I will always argue against the notion:
- Every customer is unique, and trying to cater to each specific need can result in an unfocused product. Feedback can be contrasting, making it challenging to find a universally accepted solution.
- Most customers interact primarily with the product's surface and might not grasp the underlying complexity, decisions, and technical constraints that shape the final product.
- There's a risk that customers might not articulate their needs correctly, leading to potential misunderstandings or skewed product adjustments.
- Every tweak or change has a price tag. Besides financial implications, adjusting a product's design can be intricate and multifaceted, an aspect customers may not be familiar with.
- Customers often focus on short-term fixes that address their immediate needs, sidelining the product's broader vision and long-term goals.
- Customers approach products from their unique context and often suggest solutions that fit their use-case, not necessarily the most fitting fix for all users.
- Every product operates within certain technical constraints, which customers might not always be aware of, leading to unfeasible requests or suggestions.
- Prioritizing one feature might compromise another.
- Trying to integrate every suggestion can result in a cluttered user interface and a less intuitive user experience. (Microsoft.)
- Over-reliance on customer feedback can steer a product away from its initial intent and strategic roadmap.
- A product stands out due to its unique attributes. Catering to all feedback might dilute its distinctiveness, making it blend in rather than stand out.
If customers were always right, we would've not needed Product Managers and Designers. Balancing customer needs with technical feasibility and a product's long-term vision is the true art of successful product management.