Listen To Your Customers (But Only Sometimes)

One of the most awesome parts of my job is talking to people. I get to connect with a bunch of cool people from all over the world to talk about how our startup helps better serve their customers.

These conversations often come with a couple feature requests. All of our users have their own unique use case. And all of them want things to work amazingly just for them.

Some of the ideas are great and perfectly align with our vision. Some are great and challenge our assumptions. Some are, well, just bad.

If you’re anything like my past self, you’ll likely respond to the bad ideas by claiming it’s actually a good idea that you’ll look into. Or maybe by saying you’ll add it to your roadmap when you have no intention of building the thing.

That’s a mistake. It’s not fair on you or your customers.

So what should you do instead?

Just tell them the truth. You think it’s a bad idea.

But most importantly, tell them why.

Usually the whys fall into a couple buckets:

  • You can already accomplish that in the product by doing x, y, and z.
  • You’ve considered the idea and it’s bad because x.
  • You haven’t considered the idea, but you’ve considered a similar idea.

They’re all perfectly valid reasons. A whole lot better than an empty promise.

Your customers will understand. And they’ll probably respect you more for your honesty. One thing people want more than having their ideas built is just to be listened to.

By listening and responding to feature requests honestly, you’ll build a huge amount of trust. More trust means happier customers, and ultimately more sales. Plus, you don’t have to keep all those roadmap lies on your conscience.

I’m just a guy from the UK that’s okay at writing, better at startups, awesome at making coffee.

This is day 28 in a 365 day writing experiment. You can check out why I’m writing every day here.

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