Blog Cover

How we got burned by ignoring what customers want

Many of today’s companies swear their products or services are all about the customers. Including us.

But are we really putting the customer’s needs, concerns, and desires before anything else? 

Oracle claims that 82% of the consumers are giving brands thumbs down and more than a third of those surveyed said they will drop a brand after one bad experience. They carried a study called “One size doesn’t fit all” together with Jeanne Bliss, a customer experience expert. The study examined 1,100 U.S. respondents from different backgrounds and ages. The results showed that people tend to boycott brands that failed to meet their expectations. 

Let’s be honest. Such a scenario happened to us, and it happened to our clients too. Just as it happens every single day to the world’s largest corporations. 

Failures in the market are more likely to occur than success stories. And the list of the products that disappointed the targeted customers is very long. 

So let’s examine it more closely. 


In this blog, I’ll include three often misinterpreted topics linked to customer relations and showcase how we managed to resolve customers’ needs using co-creation. 

Failure is bad. 

That’s what we are taught since childhood. 

Nevertheless, in the business world, companies are more likely to fail than to succeed. It might sound counterintuitive that learning comes from failures, not success. But, the faster we realize we’re on the wrong path, the quicker we are going to take the right one. Customer-centric products or services are so difficult to design that even the world’s most excellent companies cannot win every time. 

If we got burned by not listening to our customers, it’s to realize that we can improve our companies if we do. 

Sometimes we have to make a complete transformation of the business model we primarily established. To give an example, after an unsuccessful launch, a client approached us to redefine the entire business strategy. We shifted from a delivery service company to a thriving local ride-hailing app connecting drivers, passengers, and shops. This change brought enormous success, and we are now working with the team to build a robust strategic approach for entering new markets and rapid scaling of the product.

Customers (don’t) know what they want.

Steve Jobs sparked a massive dilemma in the corporate world, saying we can’t ask our customers what they want. 

He thought that by the time we get it built, they’ll want something new. And I have to agree, we can’t ask what customers want. But not because they don’t know. It’s because people are not necessarily good at articulating their desires. Yet if we ask them what their pain points are, we’ll get surprisingly precise answers. 

To close the gap with our customers, we need to dig deeper into their demands. For instance, we are mapping the customer journey in order to understand every part of the interaction. Once we solve their frustrations, we’ll be able to customize their experience and watch them spend more, be more loyal and recommend our product to their friends. Through co-creation, we gain insights from their perspective to establish a closer connection with our audience.

We did everything right, and still, no one is buying our product.

The truth is, every business goes through this summary every once in a while. Endless reasons can limit our product from selling, and often we are left with pending questions. What went wrong? Is our product too expensive, or did we miss the marketing strategy? Maybe our target clients are not ready for what we offer yet?

The most widespread reason for failures I have witnessed is missing to build the audience before making the product. 

I clearly remember working with a company from the waste management industry that lacked customer acquisition. To fix the issue, we gained credibility by providing value for the users before the sale. That boosted the execution of the digital strategy and brought up to 20 leads per month.

The conclusion is: We want to know who our customers are, so we can give them what they lack. 

There is one thing that distinguishes an exceptional product from an average one – desirability. 

Co-creation with customers leads to more meaningful innovation.

Today’s economy is service-oriented, and consumers play an essential role in the value of every organization. To succeed, we need to become more inclusive and align with our customers. 

Co-creation means bringing users entirely into the design process to build more genuine empathy. The empathetic approach guides us in including product features people will understand and love. 

Our experience with co-creating shows that it helps develop viable innovative products and boosts loyalty within the user audience.

I recently facilitated co-creative product ideation for one of the most significant local telecommunication providers, giving the customers a role in the creation process. The challenge was to design the future telecommunication product/service lineup together with the customers. 

You can read more about how we created more than ten new products proposed by current and future users’ through co-creation Design Thinking workshops. 


Dragana Zografska

Most read