Why you should not listen to your customers

Wait, what? — You may think. Everyone is telling you, that you need to listen to your customers, solve their pain points and understand their needs. This is all fine, but there is one thing, that is more important than listening: Observing!

Why it is misleading to only listen to your customers

Listening to your customers can be misleading. Especially if you they want to please you or be polite. Depending on your questions the outcome of your customer interview can be very different. If you frame your questions positive or if you frame it negative, the results will probably change rapidly.

A common mistake is that the interviewer is talking more than the interviewed person. When this happens the asked questions are quite obvious to answer. As most people want to be nice and polite, they will feel what you want them to tell you. In the end you will have positive confirmation from your customers, but the question if they will really like the product ist not solved.

Observing instead of talking

Instead of talking too much you should observe your customer. Don’t tell, show. This is why it is so important to have any kind of prototype or first draft of your product. Your customers don’t need to imagine in their head what you could mean with your explanation, but immediately see what they can expect.

Your business idea is easier to understand and also better to be interpreted by your customer. Just give them your prototype and see how they react. What are they clicking and looking at? Are they looking confused oder irritated? These are the juicy insights you want to get.

How to combine observing and listening

Of course it is okay to ask some questions here and there. But make sure that you are not asking suggestive questions like “So do you like this product?”. Instead make sure to be neutral and ask objective questions like “How do you feel when using this product?”. This will give you more honest feedback.

One question you can always ask is Why? With this little Why you will uncover the underlying needs and problems. This way you will get to the root cause of the problem or need. Here is an example:

I don’t want to register to purchase this product.


I want to keep my personal data safe.


I don’t trust online shops with my data.


Because I fear that they will share my data with other companies.


I already got mails from companies I never ordered at.


I think online shops misused my data and shared it with other companies.

Based on the first answer you would probably build a feature for guest login, but based on the last answer you would rather try to increase trust. See, how your actions can change just because you have asked Why several times!

So remember not only to listen to your customer, but also to observe your customer to be able to understand what customers really want of your product!

About Author

Vita is a passionate product manager and content creator with love for design and yoga. With "Product Heart" she helps turning business ideas into a great product customers love.

1 Comment

  • […] Show your customers what your product is about. Don’t let them imagine what you could mean with your explanations, but be on the same page with a visual prototype. This way it is way easier for them to understand and explore your idea. You don’t want to listen to your customer, but instead observe what they are doing. […]


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