Customer feedback key to shaping startup success

Entrepreneurs should pay attention to customers early to shape their product, rather than over-relying on quantitative data, surveys and statistics.
Written by Srinivas Kulkarni, Contributor

"Customers don't know what they want". Of course, that's the often-cited line by the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, which I bet many entrepreneurs would also have used especially in context to a lot of stages and aspects of product development and marketing.

Well, it obviously doesn't always apply especially when it comes to dealing with a diverse businesses across India or a market requiring you to gain more market share. And more importantly, you're not "Steve Jobs". Remember that he had unique insights and enormously exorbitant creative processes with world class designers at his disposal.

A very important thing that startups tend to sometimes miss out on is realizing the critical nature of customer feedback right from the get go, even during let's say when entrepreneurs ideate. How often do entrepreneurs focus on detailed customer feedback mechanisms even before their idea has taken shape? How many times do they share ideas or discuss problem statements with potential and real customers?

Over-reliance on quantitative statistics

Many times they rely on data or surveys and statistics which are nothing but inherently incurious data points that are published and collated to drive home an objective that probably doesn't match the need of specific people such as entrepreneurs.

As soon as the product is ready and it launches, a major focus tends to narrow down to the sales numbers and subsequently resources and efforts go into acquisition and building traction. Very often we miss out on the customer feedback aspect. Either you're reviewing once in a while or periodically or taking a not so proactive approach of waiting till you hear from the customers about feedback. That is something that entrepreneurs should keep a strong hold on. In fact, the mechanisms are many and approaches are far more easier with Web being more accessible. The will to focus or keep our customers in the loop and constantly evolve as a startup is what should be stressed on.

One of the key things that customer feedback does is help entrepreneurs build a process. A process that will actually help not only quantify, vilify, validate but also give a vision and a clear perspective to their already well thought idea and passion towards their startup. 

"Startup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught," according to Eric Ries, in his book The Lean Startup.

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