These are terms that get thrown around a lot, but take a minute to think about them. Lots of people use these (or similar) terms to describe their business, and may even use them interchangeably. Don’t. They aren’t. One is a good thing, the other is not. You may define them differently, but for the sake of this conversation, I’m going to define them as:
- Customer Focused – Creating a product or service that lets you best serve your customers.
- Customer Driven – Creating a product or service for your customers, then working to fix every complaint and customize every feature that comes in from your customers.
Customer Focused says “I want to create a great experience for my customers, even if it means limiting my customer base and saying no to things”.
Customer Driven says “I need every customer I can get, and the only way I can get them and keep them is if I pander to their every whim”.
Do a few things and do them well. Don’t be afraid to say no. You want customers who love what you’re doing for them, not ones who complain that they wish you’d just do this one other thing too. A smaller, loyal following is better than attempting mass appeal. If their idea has merit, someone will fill that niche. You are not obligated to.
That doesn’t mean you ignore all your customer’s input. You are still customer focused after all. Times change, markets change, needs change. You can make a way that customers can give you feedback on their experience without letting yourself be driven by them. They may have good ideas you didn’t think of that align with your goals and your team’s strengths. That’s how you evolve. Good ideas will keep coming around. Keep your eye open for them, but don’t chase everything you see.