Jennifer B. Davis
There is a principle that is so simple it is easy to miss when we are designing or marketing products: customers define the value of the goods or services that they pay for. Thinking about our business from their perspective is absolutely critical. This leads to better resource utiliziation (for example, anything that doesn't add value that customers' perceive and would pay for, is one definition of waste). It can also lead to radical thinking and innovation for new products and services. This is especially evident in the new world we live in, where outsourced manufacturing, Internet services, and the like allow us to respond immediately to customer suggestions.

Interestingly, I have been proud, as a customer, to have some of my suggestions integrated rapidly into products (I have seen it happen on LinkedIn and Basecamp by 37Signals). I can only assume I am not the only one asking for the enhancement that was implemented, but it does demonstrate to me that they care. From their perspective, however, they just received free market research to drive new development and built a little more loyalty with me in the process.
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