Difficult question and a more difficult answer... We don't know what they want and they themselves don't know what they want???? Well there are ways to know it , some could do that and become Facebook some fail to do that and become Myspace? Well the reason I name myspace here is due to the subtle message that came from the CEO Box recently
Anyways what our customers want and think of us is a broader term and question... and we are getting there.Our first ever council looks to be shaping up well.. we have a bunch of customers that are going to be actively participating in it.. and this is going to really drive a good product out overall..
How to know what our customers need is a more difficult question... I am wondering if I should start a serie post on this to enlighten myself and you on how to do the best to know what they want?
One thought that triggered my mind over is doing a real time survey with not just the customers but the real industry users who are not your customers... Now Gartner is not really an answer to this .. but if you have your customers located in a niche market and specific areas, i think it is best to understand what exactly they want and how exactly do they do things now... However these surveys are to generate a database of future drive for the product and should be done several times a year to be on top of the world and your best enemies...
These surveys are not targeted to build new features or improve existing ones alone but to have a broader view instead.. in terms of understanding what best our customers need or the potential customers would want at the same time this would help the sales in hitting the right spots when doing the sales meets and would give a feeling to the potential customer of how well we understand there business.
This has to be a customized survey that is left open through anonymity over the Internet world but well marketed and targeted towards those specific industry users that you are going to build the product for...
Now wouldn't you feel like Mel Gibson from Movie "What Women wants" when your salesman brings you exactly what you are looking for?