When in Doubt, Ask Your Customers

Driving home from work, the other day, I had an interesting customer experience. Close to my home, I stopped at a Mexican Fast Food place because I had no food at home and I didn’t feel like going out for food shopping that evening. Before I could look into the offering and choose what I wanted to have for dinner, the owner of the place showed up and asked me if I liked beef and sheep meat. I answered yes and he said that he will make me a special dish for free and that he would like me to tell him if I liked it or not.

I was puzzled, because I did not expect such thing, but while waiting for my selection of food to be packed up and for the owner to prepare the promotional taco he promised me, we engaged in a very relaxed conversation about what he was trying to do there. He was unsure what type of products his customers preferred, because he had no feedback tool to get this kind of information, and he also wanted to introduce new products, but was again unsure if they would be successful or not.

I gave him my personal take on his product offering, what I liked from there and what not, and what else I would be interested to see in his product portfolio. The guy was very relaxed, very honest and very open to all the suggestions that I made, transmitting them to his employees to take notes. He seemed genuinely interested in improving his product offering and was conducting his own market research to help him in the process.

After a while, I received my special taco and it proved to be quite tasty. However, since it was done from minced meat, I also told him that some more health aware individuals might avoid it for this reason and he adapted immediately to the suggestion, saying that they should probably not mince the meat, but rather cut it in thin slices, so that it looks more appealing, while it could also be spiced up properly.

Eventually we ended our conversation, I took my food and went home to eat. While eating, I kept thinking about the fact that, if you really want to do something new and are unsure about it, is not that hard to get feedback from your customers, regardless how small your business is or how unimportant this might seem. Even though the guy was running a Mexican Fast Food Store, he was flexible enough to think outside his traditional “Mexican” product offering box and actually create new products that would fit better his customers.

Taking the story above into account, I think it makes sense to take the time and think about how you could obtain direct feedback from your customers the next time you meet with your colleagues and brainstorm about new products or improvements to existing products. You might just receive the feedback that will allow you to come to market with a product that will solve some of your customers most important problems. As I said, when in doubt, try talking to your customers.

(originally published at:

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