Why your product is NOT what the customer wants!

Whilst this post was intended to focus on the motivation of your strongest advocates, your champions, I hope you might first indulge me whilst I have a small rant!

For those of us working on innovative solutions to old problems, one of the worst traps to fall into is misunderstanding the purpose of our product or service. Cool online solutions, funky products and catchy marketing can sweep us along a path of false hope and confusion.  Those of us leading customer experience or product development are most susceptible to this terrible blight.  We start to believe that our product or service is what customers are seeking out, and that our product or service will deliver the customer-required solution.  WRONG! 

Our products and services are merely vessels to facilitate customers in achieving their desired outcome.  For example, I don’t take the train every day to get to work because I want to – I take it in order to arrive at work so I can do my job, earn my salary and pay my mortgage!  The train facilitates this by connecting me from home to work.  The products and services we provide facilitate customer outcomes, and we need to remain humble enough to stay focused on the customer outcome, and not the vanity project that is our product. Rant over!

But some customers do make a strong connection with the product, and how it helps them achieve their outcome.  Some customers are precious early adopters and advocates, who encourage others along your customer journey. We’ve talked about influencers and early adopters in various previous posts, but one area I thought was worthy of discussion was the motivations for those who champion your product and help fan the flames of adoption, engagement & virality. Here are 4 motivating factors and how to amplify them.

  • Ego: Most people enjoy having their ego stroked. It starts from a young age – “aren’t you a clever girl?”, “didn’t you do well?”  In adulthood, some people continue to be motivated by ego – being the first to complete a task or win a game is not enough. They seek public acknowledgement for this.  If you customer champions are ego-centric, ensuring you heap praise on their actions and acknowledge their efforts will help keep them engaged.
  • Camaraderie: Some people love to be part of a team.  The sense of connection, common goal and shared success are highly motivating.  They will be highly engaged in encouraging others to try, and quick to praise fellow colleagues success.  These individuals are less motivated by their own success, and more focused on the benefits of the team success.  Helping them to overcome individual barriers, and empowering them with tool to broaden engagement is the best way to keep these people engaged.
  • Duty: For some folks, there is a strong sense of obligation.  “The teacher said I had to do this”, “The boss told me we all needed to complete that”.  This small but powerful sub-set of people are diligent and persistent in the tasks you set them.  They may not be dynamic and flexible, but they will persevere out of a sense of duty.  To keep these people engaged, ensure that they are set tasks that are time-based and self-contained, so that the individuals can see a start, middle and end for each task.
  • Altruism: These people have a strong sense of purpose.  Not to be mixed up with those focused on camaraderie, altruistic champions are not doing this for the benefit of your product or service, but because they believe in the benefit of the outcome.  They are easily disengaged, and need to feel consulted and connected, but are by far the most powerful advocates you’ll find.  Keep altruistic champions engaged by visual and varied communication, and demonstrate the impact of their success wherever possible.

So do you have any further observations on your own champions’ motivation?  Do you feel that your product overrides your customer outcomes?  Feel free to share your views!

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