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We all know what our customers want. We're confident that we understand the problem. We look at reams of marketing reports. We conduct the focus groups. We survey them. We have plenty of data. Guess what? It's not enough. Data can only indicate facts. If we fail to descend into the field and take the long walk in the customer's boots, if we don't bother to look over their shoulder while they struggle with the problem, and if we take the customer's word at face value, we can't legitimately call our design strategy "Customer centric." Rarely do customers know what they need. So rarely can they tell you. So rarely does a great innovation come from arms-length market research.
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