Don’t Listen to Your Customers! You may have heard that we are living in the age of customer experience. Gartner projected that 89 percent of companies compete primarily on customer experience. You might ask why on Earth anyone would say, “Don’t listen to your customers!” when customer opinions matter the most.

Here’s the answer: Because your customers can’t tell you what they need. Listening to them will mislead you. Customers tend to use surveys to complain, negotiate, or tell you what bothered them recently. While there is certainly value in hearing these unfiltered complaints and what they suggest about short-term perceptions, you cannot take customer inputs at face value. The only way to really know your customers—what they desire, why they buy, and what motivates them to stay loyal—is to observe their behavior like an anthropologist.

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