February 22, 2013
Friday Fun: "Customers Suck..."
... according to the wisdom of the burger-flipping retail staff known as Beavis and Butt-head. But who are the customers? The users of products and services (the vendor perspective) or the institutional providers of the products and service to the beneficiaries we know as our user population?
This divide in perspective leads to one hellva of a lot of costly consequences. For example, they include asinine end user focus groups and equally asinine look-over-the-shoulder ethnographic studies of practitioner practices. Both are based on the assumption that what practitioners say they want and what they currently do actually provides insight into what they need. Providing practitioners what they say they want based on this sort of expensive to gather evidence is how innovation is killed.
This "customer sucks" perspective when it refers to law librarians as representatives of the folks who write the big checks can also been seen in the conversion of B2B transactions to the retail model. Here the focus is on selling to the individual consumer. However, it will lead to acquiring and renewing print subscriptions as well selling boilerplate licenses to most institutional buyers. Sell a couple of burgers or sell a bunch of bags filled with burgers; want some extra packets of secret sauce, that will be a cost add-on.
So who really sucks? From my perspective, no one as long as the perspective divide can be bridged. (Excluding, of course, the tweakers known as corporate prophets and their market study crews -- perhaps one can deduct their labor costs and associated addiction costs from your negotiations.) There is a far better way to play the predictioneer's game. [JH]