Your customers are always right. (Until they’re wrong.)

The customer is always right - until they're wrong.Jack has a new set of games on the iPad.

They’re called Cordy.

As he was loading one up the other day, I overheard him say:

“I don’t CARE if it’s made by Silver Tree Media! I CARE if it’s a Cordy game! I DON’T WANT your silly ads!”

Apparently he was being shown an ad for another game made by the same developer and Jack was not amused.

Your customers will tell you they don’t like ads.

While Jack is waiting for his game to load, he does not care about whatever they’re advertising.

He’s got something he’s trying to do.

The advertisement is an interruption.

If I were to ask him later in the day how he felt about Cordy’s developers advertising their other games to him, he would probably reassert his position.

He doesn’t CARE if it’s made by Silver Tree Media.

He CARES if it’s a Cordy game.

He DOESN’T WANT their silly ads.

A brief aside for Malcolm Gladwell fans …

If you have some time, I encourage you to check out Malcolm Gladwell’s TED talk on the topic of, among other things, spaghetti sauce. He has a lot of good stuff to say. For our purposes today, though, I’ll give you this little snippet.

“People don’t know what they want. Right? It’s a mystery! And a critically important step in understanding our own desires and tastes is to realize that we cannot always explain what we want deep down.

If I asked all of you, for example, in this room, what you want in a coffee, you know what you’d say? Every one of you would say, “I want a dark, rich, hearty roast.” It’s what people always say when you ask them what they want in a coffee. What do you like? Dark, rich, hearty roast!

What percentage of you actually like a dark, rich, hearty roast? […] Somewhere between 25 and 27 percent of you.

Most of you like milky, weak coffee. But you will never, ever say to someone who asks you what you want that “I want a milky, weak coffee.”

Translation? My cat is better at knowing what she wants than the average engineer from Caltech.

Your customers think they don’t want ads, ever.

Jack self-identifies as not caring about the ads.

He believes that he only wants Cordy games.

As far as Jack’s conscious mind is concerned, he’s here for Cordy, that’s all he’s here for, and that’s the way it is.

(He sounds like one of those bumper stickers – “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”)

Right now, while Jack is wanting to get to what he came for, he says he doesn’t care about anything else, and he means it.

He believes that his not caring about the ads is universal. It’s always true.

However!

I have observed the user in the field, and I can tell you what he DOES, as opposed to what he SAYS he does, or what he THINKS he does.

Having observed Jack in action… when the dinner on offer is not to his liking?

Having observed Jack in action… when he’s trying to avoid going to bed?

Having observed Jack in action… when he’s bored of Cordy?

You bet your ass he cares.

He LOVES the ads.

He’ll click on that ad and he’ll want the game and he’ll bring me the iPad and say… wait for it…

“Can I get this game? It’s made by the same people who make Cordy! I bet it’ll be really good.”

He’ll try the sample and he’ll like it and they’ll end up with his $1.99.

Your customers will tell you they don’t like ads.

They’ll tell you they don’t like popups.

They’ll tell you they don’t like all number of things.

And they’ll be right.

Until they’re wrong.

The amateur marketing brigade will tell you that you must listen to your customers.

They will tell you your customers are like pure nuns made of gold and mother’s milk.

They’ll tell you your customer must be worshiped and listened to and trusted, no matter what.

And they’re right.

Until they’re wrong.

Yes. Listen to your customers.

But don’t listen too hard.

What we want today is not necessarily what we want every day.

And what we want every day is not necessarily what we want in an exception.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.