Weighing Public Opinion

“The customer is always right.” We’ve all heard this a thousand times and likely have different opinions of this sentiment. But one thing is clear: it’s a good idea to listen to every customer, lest you miss some solid nuggets of wisdom. While some customers do just want to have their voice heard, occasionally you’ll run into an opinion that truly makes you pause

This is when you have to make a decision. Do you continue on the path you’ve set or go with public opinion? Would it make more sense to change your business to accommodate what your customers tell you they want or stick to your long term plan?

Both are viable options, and you must face this decision multiple times a year. Here is a comparison of the two paths

Sticking to Your Path

Generally, your natural inclination is to stick to the game plan you’ve already established. You got this far with your business plan and you most likely don’t have any intentions on changing it. If you altered how you do business every time a customer recommended it you’d never get anything done

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While it’s good to listen to customers, they’re usually only thinking of how the change would affect their personal situation. Which is fine, but you have a bigger picture to think about

Much of this depends on how far in the future you’ve seen your plan. If you’ve thought everything out for quite a few years, it might be better to stick with your plan. If you’re more on the “winging it” end, listening to your customers might be the better way to go

Listening to the Hive

If you continue to get the same messages again and again, there’s definitely a reason for it. While we like to think of people complaining sometimes as just being whiners, they’re not going to go out of their way to leave you a message if they don’t mean it on some level. In this sense even trolls can be a good source of info

Let’s say you keep getting messages on Facebook that your new smartphone would work better if you had a physical keyboard. You’re deadest on staying with your “touchscreen only” game plan, though, and ignore them. At least, at first – they keep coming, and coming, so much so that you eventually can’t deny a response

It would be a mistake to just think all these people are crazy or whining. If that many people want a change, why not investigate? The least you could do is to ask the rest of your fan and customer base to see what they think

Try sending out a few feelers, like a public poll or even an email campaign, and see what kind of response you get. You might be surprised to find out that there’s a bigger voice out there for a physical keyboard on your smartphone than you thought. Suddenly, you have a brand new customer base, and you never would’ve known if you hadn’t paid attention to those first few customers.