What The Customer Really Wants

Passionate people prioritize their principles! That’s great – when it’s what the customer wants. But most of the time, the customer just likes simplicity. It never ceases to amaze me how many times world class companies and their entrepreneurs just don’t get this.

I get to spend a lot of time in airports these days, and most of all at Amsterdam Schiphol, where we are launching a world class new service for frequent flyers. The great thing about airports is that they are such an amazing opportunity not only to people watch, but to watch mankind – imagine all that amazing talent from all over the world and from so many different cultures. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

A weakness of mine is my coffee and so I get to spend a lot of time in the Starbucks queue at Schiphol. They know me well by now. So, the other day, I was performing my perfunctory queue duty at the height of the airport rush hour, and I made note of the following: 6 different spoken languages, 12 different orders for coffee, and 12 moments of insistence….and the conclusion?

Bearing in mind the wide cultural diversity, not one single traveler mentioned “venti”, “tall” or “grande”. To them it was simple: small, medium or large. 12 points of denial on behalf of the “barristas” who insisted on using the language they were trained to use, and 12 points of insistence from the customer….”NO, I WANT IT SMALL. Don’t you get it????” Starbucks creates a world class experience for some of us who like coffee. But they didn’t change the world for any of us with a tongue in our heads. People like it small, medium or large. Period.

Likewise I see many entrepreneurs embark on a journey ground-breaking, world-changing, top-of the curve, bells n’ whistles, super-particle accelerating, record-breaking product that will change peoples’ lives forever. Truth is, it hardly ever does. Never over-engineer, keep it simple and humble, and ensure ALWAYS it’s what the customer wants.

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