The Moen Revolution Showerhead -- an example of success through observing things first-hand.
Some weeks ago, Sonny Lykos kindly sent me the book: Customer Loyalty Guaranteed: Create, Lead, and Sustain Remarkable Customer Service by Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson. I've been making my way through the book's important themes -- it really is an easy-to-read volume, but I'm savoring it through a slower-than-usual reading process.
Tonight, however, something caught my eyes which is relevant, and that is one of the book's seven rules for harnessing intelligence, specifically, "Listening to customers is good, watching customer behaviour is even better."
The authors go on to note:
"Customer behavior is often more telling than the customer's words. Continuum, a Massachusetts-based consulting firm, found that out when hired to conduct market research for Moen, Inc., for use in the development of a new line of showerheads. Continuum felt the best way to discover what customers wanted in a new showerhead wasn't to ask them by surveys but rather to watch them in action. According to the New York Times, the company got permission to film customers taking showers in their own homes and used the findings in the new design. Among the insights gleaned were that people spent half their time in the shower with their eyes closed and 30 per cent of their time avoiding water altogether. The data contributed to the new Moen Revolution showerhead becoming a best seller."I'm sure almost none of our businesses require us to set up cameras in people's showers, but there is an interesting point here -- we cannot gather insights into what our clients really want without getting close to their real world, and real perspectives. I'm wondering, for example, if someone setting up a "lunch and learn" event at an architect's office would gain some advantage by seeking permission to attend another manufacturers' representatives "lunch and learn" at the same architect's office, first. (Obviously, this will only work if the two reps are not direct competitors.)
While the visit as a respectful guest rather than leader will of course consume time, the observing role would give you two real advantages -- some insights into the character and nature of the audience you will be addressing later, and (perhaps more valuable) some insights into presentation practices and knowledge about the non-competing product line.