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Customer feedback can be priceless when developing or enhancing a product or service. Here are some tips and motivating benefits.

During last week I had a number of experiences that reminded me of the importance of customer feedback. I’d like to share one of those experiences with you because it may help you to leverage the importance of customer feedback too.

On Wednesday I attended a focus group for a new software start-up. I was one of about a dozen participants. From what I could gather the members of the focus group had been drawn from a range of industries, which created a healthy balance of opinions.

It Takes Courage

I knew that a great deal of effort had been put into building the software to its current state. I believe the owners and developers showed a lot of courage to put their work up for scrutiny by a vocal audience. This is the first key point when considering the importance of customer feedback – seeking feedback can require a degree of courage.

As the focus group gathered momentum a lot of quite radically different ideas were shared. If I was one of the developers I know there would be a part of me that would feel frustrated at the prospect of potentially having to make big alterations to something I had invested a lot of effort into. In turn, this could make me defensive, and I may reject ideas that in the long run could have been better than my current offering.

I think this is the second key point in the importance of customer feedback – feedback can be challenging to listen to. We shouldn’t be surprised at feelings of defensiveness.

Revealing ‘Blind Spots’

Following the focus group I had a one-to-one meeting with one of the start-up owners. To his credit, the owner understood the importance of customer feedback and I learned that the feedback was carefully analysed, and numerous changes are being made to the software. For this reason I am confident that the feedback scores will be materially higher when it’s time for the second focus group.

Feedback has the power to help you see things that are often invisible to you. Sometimes it’s described as your ‘blind spots’. Your blind spots can contain some really useful information. With that information you can make better decisions. And better decisions mean greater revenue, lower costs, faster deliveries and higher quality. Considering ideas like this allows us to appreciate the importance of customer feedback.

Conclusions

If you can have the courage to ask for feedback, and can digest it without letting defensiveness get the better of you then you can access some very worthwhile rewards. We strongly recommend that you remember the importance of customer feedback throughout the product or service lifecycle.